History of Pathways for Parramore
In June 2005, Mayor Buddy Dyer and Commissioner Daisy Lynum launched Pathways for Parramore, a complete effort to revitalize Orlando’s historic Parramore community which had become Orlando’s most blighted community. The Pathways for Parramore initiative came to fruition from a task force commissioned by Mayor Dyer in 2003, to conduct research and obtain stakeholder input. From those recommendations, the Pathways initiative focuses on five key areas: housing, public safety, business development, children and education and quality of life. The goal is to restore the Parramore community into a safe, livable, sustainable and prosperous place for Orlando citizens, businesses and institutions to thrive.
When the Pathways for Parramore initiative was launched, 73% of Parramore’s 2,000 children lived in poverty and 84 percent were in single parent households. Forty-seven percent of Parramore adults had neither a high school diploma nor GED and median household income was $13,613. In 2005, Parramore had the City's highest rate of reported child abuse and neglect, a juvenile arrest rate 2˝ times that of Orlando’s citywide rate and a teen birth rate nearly six times the rate of the surrounding county.
Historic Overview of Parramore Heritage Neighborhood
The earliest recorded settlement of African Americans in Orlando is commonly associated with the Callahan area, which was platted by James B. Parramore in the 1880s and then replatted in 1886 by Rev. Andrew Hooper.*
During the 1880s the area known as the Holden Neighborhood (now known as the Parramore Heritage District) was platted and houses were built in the eastern portion of the area.*
Until the Washington Shores area was established in the 1940s, the Holden Neighborhood was home to many of Orlando’s prominent African American citizens.*
The first commercial establishment in the Parramore area was a blacksmith shop built in 1892 by George Macy in the vicinity of Hughey Avenue and South Street.
The first African American school, Orlando Black School, was located in an old frame building at the corner of Garland Avenue and Church Street. The Orlando Black School was moved to the corner of Jefferson Street and Chatham Avenue and renamed Johnson Academy in 1904.
Increased enrollment forced the move of the Orlando Black School to Parramore Avenue and Jefferson Street in 1921, when it was renamed Jones High School in honor of it’s principal. The students outgrew Jones High in 1952 and a new facility was built on Rio Grand Avenue. The old Jones High School became the Callahan Elementary School.
In 1945, the first Orlando Negro Chamber of Commerce was formed and located at 596 West Church Street.
The Hankins building, built in 1952, was one of the first buildings for African American professionals.
Due to integration, the Callahan and Holden Elementary Schools were closed in the early 1970’s. The old Callahan Elementary School was renovated into the Dr. J.B. Callahan Neighborhood Center in 1986.
With the creation of the Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) in 1982, a new funding mechanism was created to revitalize the downtown area.
Streetscape improvements along Parramore Avenue were completed in 1987.
Church Street Station served as the catalyst for the creation of an entertainment district along Church Street, also creating a need for a new parking garage, which was completed in 1989. This public investment represented the market forces that would eventually impact the Parramore Heritage community.
Commissioner Nap Ford was instrumental in organizing the Parramore Heritage Renovation Project for rebuilding and strengthening Orlando’s Westside neighborhoods and business district.
Dr. William Monroe Wells, one of Orlando’s first Black physicians, came to the area in 1917 and in 1926 was issued a building permit to begin construction of the Wells’Built Hotel, to provide lodging to African Americans during an era of segregation when accommodations were not available to them in other areas of Central Florida.*
In June 2000, the Wells’Built was restored and reborn, opening at 511 West South Street as the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture.* The museum serves as a strong neighborhood anchor.
* Historical information is attributed to the Wells'Built Museum of African American History and Culture.