Purvis Young's murals can be found throughout Historic Overtown
There’s a lot to discover in Historic Overtown for meetings and groups. Here’s your guide.
Historic Overtown has a mythic quality with stories passed down from generation to generation by Miami’s black community. In recent years, the once bustling music and entertainment district of the 1950s has seen a rebirth of its storied past with the redevelopment of the historic Lyric Theater and the Overtown Performing Arts Center. A visit to Historic Overtown tells the fascinating history of Miami’s black community through the decades, while giving you a taste of the thriving community today. Here’s your guide to Historic Overtown for meetings, events and receptions.
Host Your Event
Overtown Performing Arts Center
Overtown’s historic Ebenezer Methodist Church was transformed into the state-of-the-art Overtown Performing Arts Center (OPAC) in 2015 after undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation largely funded by the Southeast Overtown/Parkwest Community Redevelopment District. Designated as a historic monument by the City of Miami for its gothic architecture, the building now functions as a multi-purpose events and performing arts space. The 2,000 square-foot facility can seat up to 250 people in a theater-style setting and 110 in banquet, classroom or corporate meeting floor plans. The open floor plan boasts a stage with audio-visual equipment, making it an excellent facility for a wide range of meetings and events. The space is equipped with a culinary kitchen for seamless catering capabilities.
Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex
Established in 1913 by Georgia native Geder Walker, the Lyric Theater was once the heart of Overtown’s “Little Broadway” district. Through the years, legendary performers graced its stage, like Cab Calloway, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Sammie Davis Junior, Josephine Baker and Billie Holiday. Today, the 400-seat theater is on the National Register of Historic Places. It completed a landmark renovation in 2014 and operates as the Black Archives Historic Lyric Theater Cultural Arts Complex.
Producing a wide variety of performances ranging from comedy to jazz concerts, the new and improved venue is also available for private events and meetings. The newly expanded theater’s meeting spaces include a studio theater, multipurpose rooms, welcome center lobby, outdoor courtyard and exhibition space with a catering kitchen. The main stage boasts a fly loft, expanded wings and loading dock for upgraded production quality. Whether it’s a banquet, meeting, gala reception or performance, Lyric can cater to events of all sizes.
See The Sights
Black Police Precinct & Courthouse Museum
Overtown holds rich history and heritage for Miami’s black community. A visit to the Black Police Precinct & Courthouse Museum is an education about the struggles and accomplishments of Overtown’s black police officers in the pre-Civil Rights era. Built in 1950 as a segregated headquarters for Miami’s first black police officers hired starting in 1944, it was the first and only segregated police precinct of its kind in the country. It closed in 1963 when the police force was officially integrated. Today, the precinct tells a fascinating history of the men who served this community in the pre-Civil Rights era through captivating exhibits, archival photographs and memorabilia inside this historic building.
Purvis Young Murals
Starting in the 1970s, Purvis Young became Overtown’s artist of the streets. He painted murals throughout the neighborhood and worked with found materials to create art inspired by his daily observations. His work is often categorized as Folk Art, but it also has roots in contemporary movements like Fauvism and Abstract Expressionism. His subjects often include African Americans depicted as angels in chains or without homes, pregnant women, wild horses, scenes of social unrest, funerals, lynchings and other representations of life on the streets. They’re at once raw and hopeful.
Young passed away in 2010 at the age of 67, but his work can still be viewed throughout Overtown including the overpass wall at NW 11th Street and NW 3rd Avenue depicting wild horses, angels and city buildings painted in shades of yellow, green, pink and blue painted the same year that he died. Another, painted in 1984, is found on the wall of the Culmer/Overtown Public Library branch at NW 13th Street near Gibson Park in the Overtown Folklife Village. Finally, the Northside Metrorail station, north of Overtown, houses a Young mural from 1986.
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