Built in the early 1940s, the D.A. Dorsey Memorial Library served a vital role in the education of African-American residents in Overtown. It continues to hold meaning for the community today.
Self-taught and born to former slaves, Dana Albert (D.A.) Dorsey’s life, success and philanthropic efforts are the embodiment of the American dream. With just a fourth-grade education, Dorsey became Miami’s first African-American millionaire and major land owner. In 1940, he donated the land for the library just days before his death.
The building was used as a library for a few years, then became a community center before falling into disrepair. Neglected by the city for more than 25 years, it was scarred by graffiti, boarded windows and a caving roof, prompting residents to file for abandonment rights.
A designated historic site within the Omni
CRA boundaries, the library fell under our mission for historic preservation. Within one month of Omni CRA’s new leadership coming on the job, we stepped in to provide funding for the project.
At the groundbreaking ceremony, city leaders, relatives of D.A. Dorsey and the community came together to celebrate the project’s initiation. Some even remembered visiting the library in their youth. The project took a year and a half to complete, and opened in February 2019.