City taking bids on final work on landmark rooming house
PLANT CITY - Final restoration should be completed this summer on a historic building that once offered overnight accommodations to blacks during the segregation era. The city will open bids June 28 for the work on the Bing Rooming House Museum, operated by the Improvement League of Plant City. The work includes refurbishing the second floor as a museum and first floor living quarters for James Washington, the grandson of the rooming house's founder. The city received a $65,000 community block grant from Hillsborough County to pay for the latest restoration, said Jim McDaniel, community services director for the city. He expects the city to award a bid in early July and for the project to take 60 days or less. The city, state and Improvement League have already spent a total of about $450,000 on the project."This should complete the work on the building," McDaniel said. The Bing house at 205 S. Allen St. offered overnight accommodations to blacks when they were not allowed in white establishments. During its heyday, it included a restaurant and 10 rooms. The restoration of the landmark has been years in the making. Washington's grandmother, Janie Bing, opened the rooming house in about 1920. James' mother, Mildred Bing, also ran the boarding house and restaurant. It closed in the 1970s and was in serious need of work by the time the city and the Improvement League started restoration a few years ago. Washington deeded the home to the Improvement League with the agreement that he would have the right to live there. The league is a nonprofit organization that advocates for minorities and offers such services as tutoring.
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