Florida Guide > Days Out
The Wells Built Museum
The Wells Built Museum is in honour of Dr William Monroe Wells. William was a black doctor in the times of strict segregation who did much to improve the lot of the down trodden black American of those times. In those times no white doctor would ever treat a black person.
He moved to the area after qualifying in 1917 at which time he was 28 and built a home here in 1921.
THe good doctor served the entire area of Orlando and it is recorded that he delivered 5000 babies. Many of his patients were too poor to pay him anything but he treated them anyway.
Shamefully the black people were not allowed to use any of the facilities that were reserved for whites and these included police protection, leisure facilities and good schools. This is despite the fact that they paid their taxes like everyone else.
DR Wells resolved to solve at least one part of this and in 1928 he completed the building of a hotel for the black people. Shortly after he had a casino next door constructed which booked all the top artists for the entertainement of the black people of the Greater Orlando area.
Thus it was that over the years the Casino has attracted artistes like Ella Fitxgerald, Ray Charles and Lois Armstrong who also stayed at this hotel.
Today, the hotel is a 6000 square foot museum and here you can visit one of the guest rooms which is shown in full 1930s style and see the many exhibits displayed. These include slave records, paperwork of the era and photographs, The hotel retains its original facade.
The restoration was paid for by the Orange County government.
They hold regular special events here and that could be a relevant performance or a guided walk. Call 407 245 7535 to check what is on during your visit.
Dr Wells home is being moved to the site of the old casino and soon you will be able to visit this as well.
The Wells Buit Museum
511 West South Street
This museum is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays only and costs $5 per adult to get in. Students pay $3 and children are free.
From I4 west, get in left hand lane towrds down town Orlando. Take the south exit and go right over Division Street. The museum is in the right and there is a special parking area provided
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Page added on: 26 February 2010
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The following photos have been submitted by our villa owners for this article.