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The Overtown Community


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Though many buildings in this historically African-American community have been lost, others have been rehabilitated and adapted to commercial use. Payne AME Chapel is a symbol of the focus of black spiritual life. The Colson Hotel catered to black workers and tourists, and now serves as multi-family housing. African Americans settled in downtown Sarasota in the 1890s, in an area then known as 'Black Bottom,' but by the mid-1920s known as Overtown. The proximity of the black community to downtown prompted some anxiety in the white population, and developers opened a subdivision named Newtown to provide blacks with better places to live. Despite a slow residential migration to Newtown, Overtown continued to operate as the center of African American life in Sarasota. In the mid-1950s demolitions were underway, but the Hood Building and the Payne Chapel are among those saved.

  • Designation:
  • Black Heritage Trail,
  • Viva:
  • Historic Districts,

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