Georgette’s Tea Room: A historic meeting place for Miami’s Black arts community

WHAT IT IS: Georgette’s Tea Room opened in 1940 as a guest house and meeting spot for Black entertainers and community activists. Georgette Scott Campbell opened the tea room after her brief stint in Harlem, where she opened up a tea room before coming back to Overtown.

The two-story building with 13 rooms would serve breakfast, lunch, tea and boarding to visitors and guests. It’s remembered as a significant meeting place for Miami’s Black cultural community.

MOST SURPRISING FACT: Overtown was a hub for Black entertainment during and after World War II. After the war, these entertainers were popular around Miami Beach clubs and hotels. However, their opportunities to perform were limited due to segregation.

Entertainers like Billie Holiday and Nat King Cole stayed at Georgette’s Tea Room during their Miami performances in the 1940s and 1950s. They weren’t allowed to stay overnight at other hotels — even the places that paid them to perform.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT: Georgette died in 1962 but the property received a historic designation in 1990. However, it’s changed hands many times since then. In 2018, the property was about to go up for sale but the Brownsville Civic Neighborhood Association (BCNA) stepped in to stop it. Luckily, the owners were supportive of making sure the old Tea Room stayed in the hands of the community. Now, the building is getting some much-needed attention.

The building’s history is important not only to the neighborhood association, but to the entire city. The Miami-Dade County Office of Historical Preservation is working on next steps for Georgette’s Tea Room, whether that’s a historic designation of individual properties, joining a historic district, or a combination of many different efforts.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Dade Heritage Trust (DHT) applied for a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Currently, DHT is awaiting determination. If awarded, DHT can survey the Brownsville neighborhood to help residents learn about the history of where they live. After the survey is published, residents can best determine the future of their neighborhood, and ways to preserve Brownsville’s historic cultural assets.

By The New Tropic Creative Studio
The WhereBy.Us Creative Studio helps clients big and small engage locals, through campaigns that use creative marketing, storytelling, events, and activations to build community, conversation, and impact.