Adventures written by the VAMONDE Team
Miami’s Freedom Tower has been called the “Ellis Island of the South” for its role as the Cuban Assistance Center during the post-revolution exodus of Cubans to the United States. However, it was initially built as the headquarters for the Miami News, a daily newspaper owned by former Ohio governor and presidential nominee James M. Cox. The building was designed by the Schultze and Weaver architectural firm, best known for its work on luxury hotels like the Waldorf-Astoria and the Plaza in New York City. Freedom Tower is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated as a U.S. National Historic Landmark.
The Miami News relocated to a new facility, and in 1962, the federal government began using it as an immigration facility for Cubans fleeing the Castro regime. In 1976, it was sold to a private party. Several banks subsequently owned the building before a Saudi Arabian consortium purchased it, though they quickly went bankrupt.
In 1997, it was bought by Jorge Mas Canosa, a Cuban-American activist who founded the Cuban American National Foundation. The historic building served as the headquarters for the foundation, and a museum, library, and meeting space were added. When the Mas Canosa family put the building up for sale in 2004, a local development company bought it and donated it to its current owners, Miami-Dade College, the largest Hispanic-serving institution of higher education in Florida.
Today, the tower is home to the MDC Museum of Art and Design, which has exhibits depicting the story of the Cuban exile and celebrates the culture of Cuban-Americans.
Preview the collections you can see at the MDC Museum of Art and Design:
Cover image by Tom Schaefer [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)].