One resident, Jacqueline Story, recalls her grandparents’ journey to America and their work to build their home together. “My grandfather, Timothy Gibson, and my grandmother, Estelle Gibson, were working on a ship [in the 1900s],” Story says. “They jumped ship, and came over here as illegal immigrants, and they stayed here and started a family.”
Story also explains that her grandparents were working full-time jobs while they built three structures in the community: “The women would hold the lanterns while the men would build the houses at night. They had no blueprint, they just did it by sight.”
Many descendants of the original Coconut Grove community own property in the neighborhood today. Story rents out the same shotgun home on Frow Avenue built by her grandfather nearly 100 years earlier.
Story’s grandparents also constructed a boarding house where African Americans from the Carolinas and Georgia would stay until they found permanent work in Miami. The building continued this function until it was converted into a single-family home in 2014.
In 2018, Dade Heritage Trust worked with local community members to preserve and protect many of the historic shotgun homes in Coconut Grove. The City of Miami’s Historic and Environmental Protection Board successfully designated multiple properties in Coconut Grove for both their architectural and historic significance.
But development is a serious concern for Coconut Grove, and a large part of the community continues to fight for the protection of their homes. Out of the designated properties, 15 are under appeal, the majority of which have come from owners who recently purchased the properties in order to demolish them.
“Owners of properties who have been there for a long time have an affiliation and a feeling for the neighborhood,” Rupp says. “But [the development] community has no regard for the historic fabric of the neighborhood. They don’t have that built-in sense of community and shared heritage.”
See the article at: https://www.citylab.com/design/2018/10/preserving-the-shotgun-homes-of-miamis-19supthsup-century-immigrants/572542/?mc_cid=4bd6cb9d4c&mc_eid=887b1b11ca