Jeff and Penny Vinik Commit $1 million; Partner with Mayor Jane Castor and Jackson House Foundation to Save the Jackson House
The Vinik Family Foundation has committed up to $1 million in funding in support of the Jackson House Foundation to restore the Jackson Rooming House and preserve the meaningful local history that the house represents. “As Tampa continues to grow and change, it is critical that we invest in preserving the unique and valuable history of those who laid the foundation for our progress,” said Jeff Vinik. “Tampa’s diversity is our most valuable asset.”
Through a partnership with Mayor Jane Castor, the Jackson House Foundation, led by past NAACP President Dr. Carolyn Hepburn Collins, will be seeking additional grant funding for the project. “ First and foremost thank you to the Vinik’s for their very generous donation and their commitment to preserving this historic landmark,” said Mayor Jane Castor. “It’s impossible to put a dollar amount on the preservation of Tampa’s rich history. Throughout the city we are extremely excited by new development that is activating our once blighted areas but we must celebrate and respect the pioneers that built our great city.”
The Jackson Rooming House was built in 1901 by Moses and Sarah Jackson and operated as a boarding house for African Americans and other travelers during the era of racial segregation. The Jackson House hosted many prominent entertainers such as Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nat King Cole as they passed through Central Avenue which served as a thriving black business district leading up to the 1960’s. Martin Luther King paid a visit to the Jackson House in 1961.
The Jackson House closed in 1989 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. The grandson of Moses and Sarah Jackson, Willie Robinson, Jr. launched the Jackson House Foundation, a Florida non-profit 501c3, and advocated for the restoration of the house leading up to his passing earlier this year.
In 2017, with the assistance of a Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero award, the Jackson House Foundation worked with local engineers to stabilize the house but the condition of the structure has since worsened.
Dr. Carolyn Hepburn Collins has been leading the effort to preserve the Jackson House since February of 2013 when, as acting NAACP President, Dr. began working with Mr. Robinson and countless community leaders on a path forward. After leaving NAACP leadership, the board unanimously voted to allow Dr. Collins to continue to lead the project and has served as chair for the Jackson House Foundation since. “On behalf of the Jackson House Foundation Board of Directors, we are eternally grateful for the generous time and resources that have made saving the Jackson House a reality,” said board chair Dr. Carolyn Hepburn Collins. “From the support of Mayor Castor and the city council, to the infusion of critical support from Mr. and Mrs. Vinik, we are thankful and we encourage everyone to join this effort to preserve our history.”