Historian Fights to Save Haley Mickens House (Florida)

Historians in the News

If you happened to be a highly prominent person of color visiting West Palm Beach in the first half of this century, chances are you would have stayed at Haley Mickens's house at 801 4th Street.

Mickens and his wife Dr. Alice Frederick Mickens, a well known civil rights activist, played host to dozens of African American athletes, musicians and political figures during the years they lived in their spacious two story wood frame house, in part because no local hotel would give black dignitaries a room. The celebs that slept in the Mickens's guest room included Coretta Scott King, Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Ralph Bunche, and Count Basie.

Now a local group of historic preservationists headed by attorney and historian Harvey Oyer III are hoping to take over the 1917 house and restore it to its former glory. With the help of the Mickens's daughter, Dr. Alice Moore, who is now in her 90s, they plan to turn the entire block into a historic "Mickens Village." The plan would close the block to traffic and preserve not only the main house, but a row of shotgun shacks across the street, also owned by Moore and previously slated for demolition. An already pristine St. Patrick's Episcopal Church across the street would be another anchor for the project.

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