Coconut Grove

COCONUT GROVE by Dr. Marvin Dunn

The Peacock Inn in 1884. The inn was built by Charles Peacock, a white man from the Bahamas, who hired blacks from the Bahamas to work at the inn. This was the start of the Black Grove community. The Black Grove is not the oldest black community in Miami-Dade County. That distinction goes to Lemon City which is now Little Haiti. There were three black settlements there following the Civil War. (Historical Museum of Southern Florida)

Bahamian women who were hired to work at the Peacock Inn in Coconut Grove. Mariah Brown, the first woman hired by Peacock, is believed to be one of these women. (Historical Museum of Southern Florida)

E.W.F. Stirrup was born in the Bahamas in 1873. He moved to Coconut Grove from Key West in 1899. He had training as a carpenter. He worked as laborer but saved his money and acquired land, lots of it. Stirrup built many of the shotgun houses that were rented to blacks who arrived in the early 1900’s. He became a rich man. He died in 1957 at age 84. Stirrup owned 317 parcels of land in Coconut Grove when he died. (Historical Museum of Southern Florida)

The Stirrup home on Charles Avenue in Coconut Grove. The structure is made of Dade County pine, a hardwood that was nearly harvested to extinction by early pioneers. This was the largest black-owned home in Coconut Grove. During the horrific hurricane of 1926 many families found shelter in the Stirrup home. The building has survived for many years but now may become part of the commercial development of Coconut Grove. (Marvin Dunn Collection)

The Charlotte Jane Memorial Cemetery in Coconut Grove on Douglas Road at Charles Avenue. It was named for the wife of E.W.F. Stirrup. The family occupied several plots in the cemetery. One of the daughters of the Stirrups told me that her mother wanted the family to buy up several plots because she “did not want to be dug up when the cemetery got filled up.” (Marvin Dunn Collection)

White Coconut Grove pioneers.

Stirrup built many homes in Coconut Grove such as this one and rented then to blacks. His wife, Charlotte, helped him build the homes after Stirrup finished his day job which included helping to build Vizcaya on the Deering estate.

Long before the settlement of Coconut Grove, during the season when sea turtles hauled themselves onto the beaches of south Florida, black Bahamians came to these shores to harvest the meat and eggs to take them to the island to sell. Often the men would camp out for several days collecting turtle meat and eggs. Even during slavery Bahamian fishermen in this area encountered escaped slaves, especially on Key Biscayne. The run-away slaves were trying to reach freedom in the Bahamas. Bahamian fishermen took many of these people to new lives in the Bahamas Islands.

The Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Douglas Road at Charles Avenue in Coconut Grove. This is the oldest black church in Miami-Dade County.

Reverend Samuel A. Sampson was the first black minister in Dade County. He was the pastor of what is now the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church on Douglas Road at Charles Avenue. His daughter, Gertrude, was the first black child that was born in Dade County.

The Odd Fellows Hall on Charles Avenue is one of the oldest structures in Miami-Dade County. It was the social center of the Black Grove. It is now used as a church.

The Bahamian economy collapsed in the 1870’s causing Bahamians to seek agricultural work in Florida. Many came first to Key West and then up the Florida Keys primarily picking pineapples. Before the pineapple industry moved to Hawaii it was based in south Florida including the Keys. These are Bahamian workers on Plantation Key. Eventually many Bahamians settled permanently in Coconut Grove.