Fort Dallas/William English Plantation Slave Quarters

United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service
National Register of Historic Places
Registration Form
August 2006
Prepared by Sara Eaton, Historic Preservation Officer: Carl Shiver, Historic Preservationist, Florida Bureau of Historic Preservation

Lummus Park
Lummus Park comprises a tract of land acquired by the City of Miami in 1909 for recreational purposes. It was named for John Newton Lummus, Sr., (1873-?), who in 1909 introduced the resolution for the city of Miami to develop the parcel of land as a public park. Lummus was one of the early real estate developers in Miami and Miami Beach and was elected the first mayor of the city of Miami Beach (1915-1918). The park encompasses an area of 5.9 acres and contains three major buildings. One building has been constructed since 1954 and serves to enhance the recreational needs of the park. The park is approximately rectangular in shape and lies between the 1-95 expressway and N.W. North ^ver Drive. The park contains varied vegetation with no apparent formal landscaping.

Fort Dallas (William English Plantation, Lummus Park)
Fort Dallas was originally one of the buildings located on the plantation of William English, one of Dade County’s early pioneers. Its original site is now occupied by the Dupont Plaza Hotel in downtown Miami. The historic landmark was disassembled and reconstructed in Lummus Park in 1925. In reconstructing the building, using the original limestone blocks, the plan of the building was copied and the old windows and doorframes reused. The original building dated from 1836 and between 1838 and 1855 was used by the U.S. Army as a trading post and a barracks. Fort Dallas is a one-story rectangular building constructed of native oolitic limestone. The masonry building is capped by a gable roof that is covered with composition shingles and features exposed rafters under the roof eaves. The main entrance to the building is located on the north elevation and contains a wood panel door recessed behind iron grilles. The gable ends of the building are decorated with wooden shingles and contain small louvered vents. Also located at each gable end are interior brick chimneys with the brick exposed below the shingles.

In 1830, Key West resident Richard Fitzpatrick, formerly of South Carolina, purchased the James Egan grant in 1830 for $400. By 1833, he had also purchased the Rebecca Egan grant for $640 and two other 640 acre grants belonging to Polly and Jonathan Lewis. These latter two grants were located along the bay, south of Rebecca Egan’s grant. Fitzpatrick cleared the land, constructed buildings, brought in slaves and concentrated on everything from sugarcane to livestock, and was in the process of building a large plantation when the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) erupted in late 1835. Early in 1836 Fitzpatrick left the area, and the Seminole Indians burned his plantation to the ground. Just weeks before, as President of the Territorial Council, he had successfully pushed for the creation of Dade County from the larger Monroe County. The United States established Fort Dallas on Fitzpatrick’s property in 1838 and occupied it intermittently until the war ended in 1842. Fort Dallas was established on the plantation of William English in 1836 as an United States military post and cantonment in southern Florida during the Seminole Wars. It was named in honor of Commodore Alexander James Dallas, U.S. Navy, who commanded U.S. naval forces in the West Indies.

By the time the war was over, Richard Fitzpatrick had lost interest in the area and sold his entire holdings to his nephew, William F. English, for $16,000. English platted the “Village of Miami” on the south bank of the Miami River in 1843 and began building a large plantation house and slave quarters of native limestone on the north bank. When another Indian outbreak in 1849 brought the U.S. troops back to the Miami River, English went to California to seek his fortune during the gold rush as a means to finance his new city. He was accidentally killed in California. The Army occupied the English plantation, improved the two stone buildings he had constructed, and added several others. The troops left a year later, only to return and reactivate Fort Dallas in 1855, at the beginning of the Third Seminole War.

During this occupation, the Army again made use of English’s stone buildings. Military engineers also constructed the region’s first road, connecting Fort Dallas with the military outpost at Fort Lauderdale. William Wagner, a settler who followed the U.S. Army to the wilderness, decided to stay after the war. Sometime between 1855 and 1858 he built a simple frame house on a creek that branched off the Miami River. This house and English’s slave quarters (Fort Dallas) are now located in Lummus Park, and are the only known buildings of that early pioneer era that remain in downtown Miami.^

The first Miami post office opened in December 1856, receiving mail once a month by boat from Key West. When the Third Seminole War ended, some soldiers settled in the area and Fort Dallas became the nucleus of a permanent community.^ Fort Dallas was reoccupied by Union troops at the beginning of the Civil War and was again abandoned after the war’s end.

When English died, his estate passed to his sister Harriet, who sold the most of the property on the south bank of the Miami River to Mary Brickell, wife of William Brickell. He operated an Indian trading post at the mouth of the river and was one of the area’s leading pioneer citizens. What became known as the Fort Dallas property (the original James Egan grant) on the north bank of the Miami River passed through several owners. Julia Sturtevant Tuttle, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, moved to Florida in 1891, and was so taken with the old Fort Dallas property that she purchased it from the Biscayne Bay Company for $2,000. The Tuttles lived in a large home that had been in use when Fort Dallas occupied the spot at the time of the Indian wars of the mid-nineteenth century. Julia Tuttle repaired and converted the home into one of the show places in the area. It possessed a wide porch on the second story that provided a sweeping view of the river and the bay. The bay itself was a favorite resort for wealthy yachtsmen who came to the area in the winter for fishing and cruising.

She also recognized the importance of transportation if the region was ever to progress. In 1890, Julia Tuttle had met James E. Ingraham at a dinner party at her home in Cleveland. Tuttle was preparing to move to her property at Fort Dallas and remarked to him, “Some day somebody will build a railroad to Miami. I hope you will be interested in it, and when they do I will be willing to divide my properties there and give one-half to the company for a town site.” Two years later Ingraham became employed by Henry Flagler and told him of Tuttle’s proposal. Negotiations between Tuttle and Flagler led her to transfer to him half of her acreage along the Miami River in exchange for bringing his Florida East Coast Railway to Miami.^ On February 1,1896, Mrs. Tuttle fulfilled the first part of her agreement with Flagler by signing two deeds to transfer land for his hotel to him, and the 100 acres of land adjoining the hotel site, less her home site, to Flagler and Ingraham. The first train actually arrived on Monday, April 13,1896. It was a special, unscheduled train and Flagler was on board, as was his custom. The first passenger train arrived four days later.*

The buildings in the Lummus Park Historic District comprise one of the last remaining residential neighborhoods in downtown Miami. The city’s creation of public green space known as Lummus Park in 1909 spurred development in the area, and most of the buildings were constructed before 1926. In addition to a variety of Mediterranean Revival, Frame and Masonry Vernacular style houses and apartment buildings, the landmark Scottish Rite Temple, designed by the architectural firm of Kiehnel and Elliot, is located in this neighborhood.

The remaining Frame Vernacular residences and Masonry Vernacular buildings illustrate the building styles and types that were once prevalent throughout downtown Miami, primarily in the 1910s and 1920s. The simple frame residences and early masonry apartment buildings represent the variety of residential building types that once flourished within downtown Miami, but regrettably, only the buildings comprising the historic district survive as a small remnant. The inclusion of the park, its recreational buildings, the church, and the Scottish Rite Temple serve to recall the vitality of this neighborhood and serve as anchors to the district boundaries.

Two of the buildings found in the Lummus Park Historic District represent the last remaining structures associated with Miami’s pioneer history. Both structures were moved to their present site because they were threatened with demolition and there was no other alternative to their preservation. The erection of Fort Dallas at Lummus Park presents a combination reconstruction and moved structure. The 1920s effort to save the structure heralded the city’s initial historic preservation movement. This was quite a civic undertaking, as the city was just more than three decades old when the preservation effort began. Fort Dallas is the earliest surviving example of native limestone construction in Miami and the only remaining structure associated with the Miami’s early military history. Fort Dallas is considered a contributing resource within the district. The William Wagner House was moved to its present site in 1979 and was originally the home of one of Miami’s leading pioneer citizens, the man responsible for erecting the first church in the county. Although this structure is a rare example of braced frame construction and represents the early history of the area, it is considered to be a non-contributing resource as it was moved into the district after the period of significance.

The buildings of the historic district represent the diversity of architectural styling that characterized early construction trends in Miami. In addition to the two pioneer structures, there are various other examples of Frame and Masonry Vernacular buildings that represent an attempt to erect moderately-priced housing quickly, using locally available construction materials. The residences and apartment buildings executed in this regional style were influenced by other local buildings as well as the South Florida climate. The presence of the Mediterranean Revival Style in the district represents the influence of the architectural trend that became widespread in the Miami area during boom period of the 1920s. The Art Deco architecture of the Scottish Rite Temple makes this building a highly important architectural landmark in the city. The building was designed by Kiehnel and Elliott, one of the city’s most prominent architectural firms, and represents a highly important illustration of the firm’s work in South Florida.



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