Thirteen years ago, the city of Miami finally declared the D.A. Dorsey Memorial Library, located at 100 NW 17 St., a historic site. Dana Anderson “D.A.” Dorsey was a businessman, banker and philanthropist who became one of the first African-American millionaires in Florida.
He rose from a carpenter on Henry Flagler’s railroad to one of this region’s greatest philanthropists and community benefactors. Certainly, a man and a time worth being remembered and his gifts preserved. Unfortunately, cities, like the people who run them, sometimes have short memories and lose sight of priorities. D.A. Dorsey’s importance and the importance of his memorial library seem to have been forgotten.
In fact, last summer the library collapsed because of inexcusable neglect by the city of Miami. Shortly after the collapse, I began an effort to explore what happened and ask questions of city of Miami and Miami-Dade County officials, hoping to spur action to save the library.
I was frustrated in my attempts to motivate officials. So, I read with interest the recent Miami Times article describing a lawsuit against the city for its failure to safeguard its own historic property. I also read that in the same Overtown neighborhood millions will be spent on the sale of Miami-Dade County land to build a new soccer stadium. Indeed, a stark contrast of priorities and funding.
The city and the county have the resources and ability to immediately stabilize what remains of the library and begin salvage operations. Their continued delay leaves the remaining structure at risk and threatens community safety. A severe thunderstorm could cause the structure’s continued collapse.
I request that our leaders raise awareness of the deplorable state of the library and prompt the city and county to take emergency action to secure this important landmark of our community.
John W. Crawford, Miami