By: Dr. Paul S. George
Historic Lummus Park, one of contemporary Miami’s best-kept secrets, was a popular, even alluring destination for residents and visitors in an earlier era. The park is named for James E. (J.E.) Lummus, the City of Miami’s second mayor, who lived immediately south of it.
The seven-acre park—Miami’s oldest—is nestled between Northwest 2nd and 3rd streets and I-95 and NW North River Drive, near the Miami River. Carved out of a sub-tropical hammock, the park rests on an oolitic limestone ridge that was graded at the time of its creation in 1909.
From the beginning, the park offered visitors a wide array of activities. It was most notable for its 28 shuffleboard courts. The park also contains two of Greater Miami’s most historic structures: the William English Slave Plantation House/Fort Dallas, which dates to the 1840s, and the Wagner Homestead House, built in the following decade by one of the area’s few settlers.
In the early decades of the 20th century, the neighborhood surrounding the park was among the city’s finest addresses. It includes the stunning Scottish Rite Temple, the beautifully restored Temple Court Apartments, which are nearly 100 years of age, The Oaks rooming house on Northwest 3rd Street across from the park, as well as three beautifully restored houses on Northwest 4th Street. The portion of the neighborhood immediately north of the park is a local historic district.
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