Historic Ella Jordan Home in Pensacola Reopens This Summer
After years of turmoil and $360,000 worth of investment, the historic Ella Jordan home in the Belmont-DeVillers neighborhood has been saved and will reopen to the public as a museum this summer.
Ms. Ella Jordan, the building’s namesake, was a vital member of the Pensacola community and was dedicated to activism and the advancement of African American women’s issues.
In the 1950s, the building was the regular meeting location of the Pensacola Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, which Ms. Jordan founded in 1929. Since then, many other clubs and organizations have used the space to meet and organize.
Unfortunately, despite the determination of those who saw the building as an important part of the history of advocacy and community in the area, the vibrant meetings that once took place in her home came to a halt. The home was ravaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and became unsuitable for occupancy. It was then condemned and scheduled for demolition.
Efforts to preserve the home began around 2018 when the Mother Wit Institute began a fundraiser campaign to restore the site. In 2020, the Ella Jordan African American Museum board formed with the mission to take over restoration work and develop exhibits for the museum.
Throughout their efforts to preserve the building, advocates encountered adversity. In fact, just a few years prior, the home had been stripped down to the studs and was targeted for demolition until previous Mayor Ashton Hayward took heed to the calls from community advocates to stop the demolition and preserve the home.
“They had to go through many legal entities to jump through the hoops and make people realize it was a project worth saving,” Walter Gulley Jr., president of the Ella Jordan African American Museum board, told the Pensacola News Journal.
“So many African American neighborhoods have been depleted because nobody really stood up for them or tried to maintain them as gentrification happened.”
Thanks to the hard work of these advocates in the community, the Ella Jordan home will reopen its doors to the public this summer as a museum to African American women’s causes.
According to the museum’s website, its mission is the following:
"To honor the significant political, social and economic contributions of African American women in our community throughout our history, particularly that of Ms. Ella L. Jordan.
To provide a space where citizens can come together across race and gender to continue the betterment of our community.
To provide educational opportunities for those interested in learning more about African American history in Pensacola.”
Preserving locations like the Ella Jordan home is important. According to the museum, of the approximately 35,000 museums in the United States, only approximately 150 focus on African American studies and, further still, fewer than 10 focus on African American Women’s history.
To be certain, the Ella Jordan home is by no means the end of the hard work of preserving these important cultural cornerstones. One can only hope that this story of success in the face of adversity will serve as inspiration to others who wish to begin that good work and are willing to see it through. Maybe they can even meet at the Ella Jordan home.