Sullivan Street in Miami was jam-packed Saturday as the site of two main events, when the annual building tour took flight with the fourth annual Wings of Hope car show.
One offered a glimpse into Miami’s past with a self-guided walking tour of historic downtown buildings. The other was a car show and scholarship fundraiser honoring the memory of a young man gone too soon.
Miami Building Tour
Beginning at Bullion Plaza and Cultural Center, this year’s walking tour featured historic buildings not always open to the public, such as the Fitzpatrick Building on Keystone Street, the apartments above the Jim Coates Gallery and the segregated YMCA on Miami Avenue, known locally as the “Mexican Y.”
Once the Miami “Y” for Native Americans and Mexican-Americans who worked in the mines, the building has since transformed into the studio and home of contemporary artist Janet de Berge Lange and husband Mike.
In 2011, the couple bought the 100-year-old building on Miami Avenue from sculptor R.C. Merrill who renovated it for 10 years. “The tiny structure is a work of art in its own right,” Lange says.
During Saturday’s tour, Miami native Jose “Angel” Medina spoke about his grandfather showing him the building and the stories he told.
The courtyard where Medina sat once boasted a handball court on one side and and a basketball hoop on the other. Boxing matches were also held on the slab in between.
As for segregation, Medina believes it resulted from a number of factors.
“The Mexican-Americans wanted to speak Spanish and the white people didn’t want a language spoken in front of them that they couldn’t understand,” he said.
There were also rumors at the time about the hygiene—or lack thereof— among the mine worker’s children, said Medina, pointing out that mining was dusty and dirty work and also that children played in the dirt.
The outcome was that certain ethnic groups were only allowed to swim at the Miami YMCA just up the street on Fridays and some Saturdays when the pool was about to be flushed, he said.
The segregation at the YMCA ended in 1947, before Medina’s birth in 1950.
Another building on Saturday’s tour was the former John Fitzpatrick and Son Saloon and Boarding House on Keystone Avenue, now owned by Miami residents Ray and Karen Webb.
Constructed in 1905, it was the first permanent building in what would become the Miami Townsite, said Karen Webb. The building’s annex, built later, served as the mission lunch kitchen, where food was served through a barred window in the wall.
During the recent renovation, the Webbs discovered scorched areas indicating that a fire had damaged the kitchen.
In its history, the Fitzpatrick Building served as a bar and boarding house, dance studio and senior community center as well as a recreational youth center.
With their contractor Greg Brown, the Webbs are renovating the building so “it may serve another 100 years,” Webb says.
Now, the main room is used as an art gallery for seasonal events with the backroom used as a fiber arts studio, “Sentimental Yarns.”
Other Miami businesses featured on Saturday’s tour included My Mom’s Dzynes, Studio Cafe, Wild Horse Saloon, Inspired by Time, Sullivan Street Antiques and Miami Rose.
During the Sept. 9 Miami Town Council meeting, Community Coordinator Kristy Regalado said that about 150 tour tickets were sold on Saturday.
Wings of Hope Car Show
This year, the fourth annual Angel Perez Wings of Hope Show and Shine brought 130 classic cars and lowriders to Sullivan Street.
Partnering with the Pinal Mountain Foundation for Higher Education, Wings of Hope has helped provide more than 30 scholarships in the past four years through its annual fundraiser, said Angel’s mother and event co-organizer Monica Perez.
She said the fund usually provides four scholarships of $500 each per semester. “We try to award four scholarships each semester,” though six were given out last year due to the number of applicants, she said.
Each year, the event both grows in number of cars as well vendors—there were about 30 vendors this year—offering arts, crafts, clothing and food.
During Saturday’s event, Perez talked about her son, Angel, describing him as a good friend to all.
She talked about the young man getting calls in the middle of the night from friends needing help, as well as going into his room in the morning to find friends who needed a place to stay sleeping on his floor.
“Angel always put others first,” she said. “He just didn’t know that he was important, too.”
He died at the age of 21, leaving behind a six-month old son.
Perez encouraged those needing help to reach out.
Award winning journalist with over 18 years experience in covering local news and issues affecting rural communities. Married 37 years, my life has taken me from Phoenix to Wilcox to Globe. My husband and I are both overjoyed to find ourselves in Globe-Miami, with its rich history and sense of community. This is truly home.