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Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture, Orlando, FL

Discover Orlando, Florida’s African American heritage at the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture as part of this group motorcoach vacation package. Located in the heart of Orlando’s Holden-Parramore Historic District, the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture was originally built by Dr. William Monroe Wells as the Wells’ Built Hotel. It served as a lodge to African Americans during an era of segregation when accommodations were not available to them in other areas of Central Florida. Not long after, Dr. Wells built the South Street Casino by the hotel’s side, an entertainment venue that would welcome some of the most famous entertainers that travelled the Chitlin Circuit. The hotel was registered on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in February of 2000 and in June of 2009, the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture opened its door in order to preserve the memory of the Wells’ Built Hotel, South Street Casino and Orlando’s African American heritage.

Wells' Built Museum Outside Wells' Built Museum Outside
Recreated Hotel Room Recreated Hotel Room
Dr. William Monroe Wells Dr. William Monroe Wells
Guest list featuring B.B. King
Guest list featuring Ray Charles Guest list featuring Ray Charles

Visiting to the Well’s Built Museum of African American History & Culture

During your visit to the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture, explore exhibits that bring Orlando’s African American heritage to life.  Discover what one of the guest rooms at Wells’ Built Hotel would have looked like during the first half of the 20th century. Learn about the South Street Casino and the famous African Americans who performed there. Dig deep into the past of Dr. William Monroe Wells. Additional memorabilia related to Orlando’s African American community is also on display and includes items related to the Civil Rights Movement in Orlando and African art on loan from local collectors. If time permits, shop Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture gifts and keepsakes in the museum store.

1930s Period Hotel Guestroom

Set inside the original hotel façade of this African American history museum is a guest room, recreated to look as it did when it was originally in use during the 1930s. The guestroom is brought to life through authentic furniture, beading and decorations from the time. On one of the original interior walls in the guestroom, important architectural elements and designs unique to the period are showcased.

The South Street Casino

Discover the significant role the South Street Casino once played in Orlando in the museum’s South Street Casino exhibit. Lack of organized recreation for African Americans in Orlando, Florida during the time lead to Dr. William Monroe Wells’ decision to build the South Street Casino in 1924 next door to his hotel. During its time, the casino was known as a recreational facility, attracting children with its basketball court and skating rink by day. The night attracted a different crowd. After 8:00pm, the South Street Casino sent home the young and welcomed adults from Sanford, Eatonville and surrounding areas who came to the casino’s performance hall to see entertainers that travelled the Chitlin Circuit. The Chitlin Circuit was the string of performance venues throughout the eastern, southern, and upper mid-west areas of the United States that were safe and acceptable for African American musicians, comedians, and other entertainers to perform in during the age of racial segregation in the United States. While the original South Street Casino was demolished after a fire in the building during the 1980s that caused irreparable damage, documents featuring the names of entertainers who performed and stayed at Wells’ Built Hotel were salvaged and can be found on display in the exhibit. Peg Leg Bates, Ella Fitzgerald, Roy Campanella, Thurgood Marshall, and Jackie Robinson are just a few of the famous names of guests who frequented the establishment.

The Man behind Wells’ Built Hotel

Discover the history of Dr. William Monroe Wells. The museum’s Dr. William Monroe Wells’ exhibit features artifacts that explore Dr. Wells’ life. Born in Fort Gaines, Georgia in 1889, William Monroe Wells attended Meharry Medical College before he moved to Orlando, Florida to serve the growing African American population during the segregation. Known as one of Orlando’s first African American doctors, and the only African American physician in Orlando for part of World War II, Wells treated patients who suffered from pneumonia, influenza and scarlet fever. With the help of his assistant, Mrs Josie Belle Jackson, Dr. Wells delivered more than 5,000 babies during his career.

Shopping at Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture

Take a special keepsake home to remember your time at the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture, or a souvenir for a loved one, you are sure to find the perfect keepsakes and souvenirs related to Orlando, Florida’s African American heritage in the gift store.

Travel Tips

  • The Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture is ADA compliant.
  • Don’t forget your camera, there will be exciting photo opportunities during your visit to the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History & Culture.

 

Inside Wells' Built Museum Inside Wells' Built Museum