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Title: Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Adams, Floyd, interviewee
Interview conducted by Taylor, Kieran
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 112 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-10-25, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series R. Special Research Projects. Southern Oral History Program Collection (R-0168)
Author: Kieran Taylor
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002. Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series R. Special Research Projects. Southern Oral History Program Collection (R-0168)
Author: Floyd Adams
Description: 115 Mb
Description: 21 p.
Note: Interview conducted on August 16, 2002, by Kieran Taylor; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by L. Altizer.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series R. Special Research Projects, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Floyd Adams, August 16, 2002.
Interview R-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Adams, Floyd, interviewee


Interview Participants

    FLOYD ADAMS, interviewee
    KIERAN TAYLOR, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
KIERAN TAYLOR:
What I'd like to do is do a bit of family history and your own sort of personal reflections on West Broad and then pull us through and talk about more recent, the post-sixties history. So for the sake of the tape if you could just tell me your name and when and where you were born.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Floyd Adams Jr.; I was born May 11th, 1945, Savannah, Georgia at 1015 Demmond Street, my grandparent's home.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
This was what street?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Demmond Street, D-E-M-M-O-N-D, Demmond Street. It's located in West Savannah.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
And 1945, that was about the time that your father had started the newspaper.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Is that correct? He started it earlier that year in reference to Savannah Herald was located at that time on West Broad Street as a matter of fact, and after several years it moved to 808 Montgomery Street, stayed there for thirty plus years. I grew up in the newspaper and started working with the newspaper when I was in the fifth grade at ten cents an hour sweeping the floors and doing other stuff like that, which my father made me save the majority of the money so the next year I could pay for my tuition and uniforms and everything else. So that was a good work ethic for me. I enjoyed it very much.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Your father got his start early in the newspaper business as well, didn't he?
FLOYD ADAMS:
That's correct. He used to work as a delivery person for Savannah News Press, and so much so that he was well known, received the nickname of Press Boy and that stuck with him up until his death. So a lot of the old Savannahians still call me Little Press Boy. I grew up with that since I was with him in the newspaper business. He always sort of hung out with him so to speak, traveled with him. So it was good. Good business, good relationships. I learned quite a bit from him, and I'm very proud of that fact.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Now was he born in Savannah as well?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Yes he was. He was born in Savannah in 19 and he spent all his life here.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Did his father have any kind of connection to printing or the newspaper business?
FLOYD ADAMS:
No, my father was orphaned very early in his life, and his mother sort of raised him by herself, and she remarried had two additional kids; and therefore, Richard Hamilton and Lewis Hamilton. He was a loner so to say. He was an Adams and they were Hamiltons. They have a good relation. I have one uncle who lives in New York, and they developed a relationship. Then my grandmother died early in life, and then other relatives sort of raised him, and he was basically at the age of fourteen or fifteen he was

Page 2
on his own. So he did basically build himself up to his own bootstraps. Fortunately enough he had an eighth grade education. He graduated from Saint Mary's Catholic school, and with that basis of an education, he went on and provided for himself and eventually opened up his own newspaper because of the experience he enjoyed being with the Savannah News Pressin delivering the paper. He always loved that aspect of the business. So when the opportunity arose, he and several partners—let's see Gus Hayes and Mr. Houston Talbert—formed the Herald, the Savannah Herald, and in 1949 he bought them all out and gained sole ownership of the newspaper.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Now at that time there was at least one black newspaper. There was the Tribune.
FLOYD ADAMS:
There was the original Savannah Tribune.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Which was the original mainstay.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Right the mainstay. The Herald emerged out of, my father always wanted to be in the newspaper business, but others had other ideas. The Herald, the formation of the Herald basically started because certain people in the community felt that they were being ostracized, and they weren't able to get their news printed in the Tribune because they didn't have certain social standings within the community. In those days there were so-called bourgeoisie type individuals. So my father and his partners formed the newspaper to deal with the common folk of Savannah.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So it was more of a working class orientation.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Working class orientation-type situation.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
With the Frogtown, Currytown.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Currytown, every aspect of Savannah was represented within the Herald, but it was mostly like you say the working class people so they could have a voice in some of the things. They picked up very soon, acceptance was very good, and we survived almost fifty-eight years of publication, and we now have three generations, my father, myself and my son and daughter now operate the newspaper. It's survived because of that same principle of dealing with the common folks of the community.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So coming up, so you were, the home you grew up in, was that the one you were born into?
FLOYD ADAMS:
No, fortunately I was born, my grandparents had a home and owned some property. My uncle had a house down the street. My other aunt had a house down the street. So my father bought a home in that so-called triangular complex. We would call it a cul-de-sac or something today. So we all

Page 3
lived within the same neighborhood; so my grandparents lived right around the corner from me within I guess a quarter of a mile. I guess even smaller than that in distance because our back door almost boarded each other [unclear] go around the street. But it was in that complex, but I lived on 29 Newell Street. I grew up in that house and stayed there until I got married as a matter of fact. It was a good neighborhood. My mother still owns the house. So we go over there quite regularly, still in the neighborhood.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Did you work out of the West Broad office then? Your father moved to Montgomery—
FLOYD ADAMS:
My father when I was a child, they had already moved over to the Montgomery Street office, and that was my earliest relationship with that, when the Herald was on Montgomery Street.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Montgomery was an extension in some ways of Broad Street.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Yes it was, because all the African American businesses and black businesses, what ever you want to call it, were located on Montgomery and Martin Luther King Boulevard or West Broad Street. Montgomery Street is only a block away, and as a child one of my duties in working with my father in the business, he had other. The Tribune was our competition. It was friendly competition. If they needed something from us, we would give it to them. If we needed something, we would hear back and forth like mostly pictures or something of that nature. I was the go-for.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
The runner.
FLOYD ADAMS:
The runner, go-for or whatever you want to. I had to walk around the corner on Park Avenue to there, and by then you'd walk past most of the black businesses, the fish market, Mr. McLaughlins you would call it confectionery-type thing but more than that went on in there. Across the street you had Robins Department Store. They had all those type of businesses there. The Sims Fish Store and all those. It was a whole cavalry of businesses that catered to the black folk who lived in Currytown and all those behind West Broad Street. They provided the income base for most of those businesses, and we didn't have the transportation that we do now. Everybody didn't have two cars in the garage and a driveway. Everyone walked and so convenience stores now, the M and M supermarkets, the Foodtown supermarkets, all those Krogers have bought them out now. But those grocery stores, people like the Sadlers, the Malavers, they had grocery stores on the bottom floor, and they lived upstairs on the second floor. That's how my father got to know a lot of those people because he eventually, we had a printing company as well. We would print their flyers for them, and they called them circulars or flyers back in those days and let

Page 4
people know what was going on in the sales and what was going to come up. We did that for many, many years until they grew and started doing other things with their distribution points.
A lot of people, urban renewal as I say tore out Currytown, they tore out the businesses, but that enabled the white or Jewish businesses, the money that they received from that to expand into other aspects of real estate development and everything else. But on the other part, it destroyed quite a few of the black businesses because they didn't relocate. Some of them relocated, but they didn't have the clientele to deal with it like they do today. It's a major difference in that respect.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
By many accounts Currytown was falling down, and the effort to revitalize the housing doesn't seem bad in and of itself. Did anyone foresee the dramatic negative consequences that it would have on the long-term health of the street?
FLOYD ADAMS:
I don't think they did. If they did back in the attitude back in those days, they didn't give a damn about it, excuse the expression. There was an excess of gathering land. They saw an opportunity for federal grants and what have you and improve the situation. But what, the people who owned the land made the money, and they took the money and reinvested it because most of it came to be federal property of the housing authority. Unfortunately there were quite a few people who regardless of the fact that—[To security officers at Savannah airport] good morning gentlemen, how y'all doing. Doing good. Everything okay. Good. I know y'all enjoy this cool comfort. Thank you. I guess the city fathers saw it was an opportunity to make some improvements, but also you have to understand that the urban renewal project extended not necessarily in Currytown, but extended all the way through the whole quote historic district itself. That gave them the opportunity to get low interest money to refurbish those houses.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Houses.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Right, so it was a joint component in that regard. So look at it from two different situations.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Now would you want me to, would it be easier for me to stay by the car?
FLOYD ADAMS:
I'm going to pull right up in here. I get special privileges. They know I'm not going to blow the place up.

Page 5
KIERAN TAYLOR:
That would make some headlines. Well, let me, I'm just going to cut this off. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.] We left off talking about urban renewal, and you had mentioned that it's important to keep in mind that the other aspect of it was the redevelopment of the historic district.
FLOYD ADAMS:
The historic district.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Were there people in the black community that were aware of what was going to take place?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, I guess I was.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Do you remember?
FLOYD ADAMS:
There were some protests mostly among the churches, displacement of the churches. That was it. Back in those days you have to understand that my interpretation is that people accepted the government say this, the government say that. It was a combination of two things happening, several combinations if you want to add it all together and think about it.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
What was that?
FLOYD ADAMS:
The building of I-16 as it came into Savannah as well. You had the historic, the components of it to get part of it, you had the historic district redone. You had the I-16 terminating in that area, and then you had also the rebuilding of the, as you would call it the public housing area where Currytown once existed. Most of those homes in there were rental homes as well, but you displaced those people, but they didn't bring them back. Some of the people moved out into various other areas of the community, and you replaced them with different individuals, and when you get the process of public housing, you lump people together. You put enough stories or whatever. You increase the density of the area, and yet you don't have the same, people with the same mindset. Although people lived in Currytown, they lived on dirt streets and what have you. They kept their surroundings clean, and everybody was manageable and everything else. Everybody looked out for each other and did things for each other and that type thing. It was a community within a community if you want to call it that. So we lost that type of significance of that area. We've learned, I think we've learned quite a bit about that when we should have gone back to single family homes or a couple of duplexes rather than build the way we did presently. I think you will have a much better community from an aesthetic point of view and maybe a cultural diverse community than you have right now. In essence what you did was replace blacks with blacks but poor blacks.

Page 6
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So you think the new projects that were built though it was drawing from a different pool of people?
FLOYD ADAMS:
You drew from a different pool of people although they were, most of these people were scattered throughout the city. They sort of brought them in and lumped them all together.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Then Currytown was kind of dispersed.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Dispersed. Right. Currytown, Frogtown, parts of old Yamacraw, all that was dispersed. The only church that they were able to save was First African Baptist Church, not First, First Bryan Baptist Church down in the heart. We lost the mother church of the AME church, Saint Phillip Monumental. We lost Saint Paul CME Church. We lost quite a few major facilities, and I mean buildings, historical buildings, and that has always been my argument with the historic Savannah people. Where were you at when you're talking about saving all of these buildings? Where were you, you didn't save the original black churches and some of the architectural treasures that we had then. So where were you then?
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Which also I guess could've served as an anchor because you had, even if people lived in other neighborhoods, they could come home to church.
FLOYD ADAMS:
That's right come home to church and serve as an anchor. But you displaced buildings, businesses as well. You displaced Savannah Pharmacy who moved over on the other side of West Broad Street. You displaced most of the thriving businesses, the doctor's offices and other things that served these people. You displaced them. You totally moved them out of the neighborhood. So who did they have to rely on. It made them more dependent on the larger superstores, and you made them more dependent on businesses located outside, but also what you did was take the wealth away from those African-American businesses that were already relocated there. Some of them took the money, relocated and then failed because they didn't have their clientele that they once had as well.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
To what degree was this by design?
FLOYD ADAMS:
I don't know. Really, I haven't done the research on it and to be quite frank with you, but it seemed you want to say racial, then it could be racial. But in somebody's mind who came up with all this idea thought that they were creating a good thing for the city. So you have to weigh it from that perspective. Unfortunately and I'm just speculating on this aspect of it, but the banks did not give the support to the black businesses who had to relocate that they did to some of the Jewish-owned grocery

Page 7
stores or what have you. They did not do that. They simply got I think because they were black. They were white. Like I stated previously some of the former Jewish storeowners the Malavers, the Sadlers who had stores within the community used that as a stepping stone to reach out and expand their operation based on the money they received from the government in relocation businesses and what have you. So you can look at it from that perspective, and some people may argue the point differently. But I see it from that point of view. They stepped out. That was their launching pad if you see.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So they were able to take advantage of the emerging markets in the southern part of the city.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Right, they were. They were. Also you got rid of a lot of the black-owned restaurants and everything else, the food catering places. When that came through, you knocked basically every major concern of black business out of operation so to speak that was on West Broad Street. The dry-cleaning there. You had Chick's newsstand. You had the chicken fry place right on the corner there. All those businesses even the bakery, there's a bakery shop there. They took that money and launched and moved over in another area and made money off of the lot which is gone now, but they had their launching from that money and relocated and did business elsewhere until the family sort of broke up and they went out of business. But like I say other people used that as a launching tool to go do things.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So they were able to use the federally mandated relocation money.
FLOYD ADAMS:
So they helped themselves and were able to do better. The black businesses did not because they lost their clientele that they dealt with. Personally, and I agree with Mr. Law on his concept, they could've maintained the role of black-owned businesses on MLK and build those public houses behind MLK and still succeeded.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
On which side of MLK?
FLOYD ADAMS:
On the, I guess you'd call it the west side of MLK. They could've maintained those businesses. But they didn't do anything to the east side of MLK. If they'd have kept a row of businesses on MLK to the original structure and everything there, the artistic value say from Henry Street to downtown was maintained, especially what we call the black district from I would say I'm trying to get a point to Gaston Street to Henry Street, Anderson Street was still maintained the architectural significance of that area.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Because those buildings were still in good shape.

Page 8
FLOYD ADAMS:
The buildings were in fairly good shape, and they remodeled those buildings like they're doing today and brought them up. They could've given the money to upgrade the buildings, and yet you'd have maintained the black-owned businesses and still maintained the client because the new clientele would've come in and supplied their sources of income to those buildings, to those businesses.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Was there one point as you were working down there as a young person where you just noticed that things were changing dramatically?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, we noticed when they started tearing them down and doing some things.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Tearing which, the houses.
FLOYD ADAMS:
The houses and the businesses. Like I say, there at Curtis Restaurant, Curtis Luncheonette and everything, that's where my father and I would go have lunch together. You could walk to the theatre. You could walk from my grandmama's, and actually after I got there in the morning and did what I had to do, I was free, especially in the summertime so I would walk to the theatre and do something like that. We could go from there. So it was a very pleasant experience that we all enjoyed, and as you walk you spoke to the people on the street. It was a community thing. Everyone knew who I was so to speak, and it was good. It was enjoyment.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I'd imagine a neighborhood like that would give rise to some pretty colorful characters, some individuals that people recognized on the—are there any that stick out for you?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, there's plenty that I had experience with growing up. Jazzbo [Fay Patterson] was a policeman that was a good friend of my father and he had his reputation, Big Mama, you hear about all these people and you meet them.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Big Mama was?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Big Mama was a big lady who didn't take much off of no one, and she would fight a man just as good as anybody else. So you had that type situation. But people had respect for her, and Ms. Louise, she owned a Louise Luncheonette. Dave Freeman, Dave's Soda Shop, I still see him occasionally now. His son is a lawyer in Savannah. Those are the people that people are related to and deal, (Ms. German?) who is the cook at German, Mrs. Elizabeth. Scott Barbershop, I can name. Monroe Funeral home although Frank Bynes, Sidney A. Jones all these people that I knew as a child because in dealing with them through

Page 9
my father and everybody else, and like I say I was a runner, go-for what ever delivery person take this to this person, that person. That's how I got to, Mr. Willie Brown who owns a little restaurant and little hotel.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
You wouldn't remember any of Daddy Grace's parades?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Oh yes I do. I remember quite a few of them. I enjoyed it matter of fact, really enjoyed those because at the time we could go to the Herald and kept cool and relaxed until the parade came out and then we walked outdoors and did it. Like I was telling, relating to some people the other day, they used to have the bands on the back of a truck, a flatbed truck and playing the music right before Daddy Grace would come by and see the people walking and the parade. The big parade of Savannah was the Daddy Grace parade for black folks. It wasn't the Saint Patrick's Day parade. It was the sweet Daddy Grace parade and everybody turned out. I mean, that was it. That was the thing. I remember going to my first service of Daddy Grace—
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Was this an outdoor?
FLOYD ADAMS:
No, he had a tent on the corner of Thirty-fourth and Thirty-fourth street between Ogeechee road right around the corner from his present place and had the sawdust on the floor. That was the ground. That was the flooring, the sawdust, fresh sawdust on it. People step on that and everything and see how they gave him the money trees and all that kind of stuff. But as a child you related to the music and see how the people were reacting so more than anything else. So it was good.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
A spectacle.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Yeah, the spectacle if you want to call it, but everybody looked at Sweet Daddy wanted to look at his fingernails and everything of that nature. He did wonders for this community and brought it together. So regardless of whether you believe that his religious permutation and belief, he did good for this community. He still continues to do good, his beliefs.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
House of Prayer.
FLOYD ADAMS:
The House of Prayer doing great. The House of Prayer did something in this community that other churches have not done, black churches. They built apartment complexes for the senior citizens within the church. They spruced up the neighborhoods and recently within the last four or five years, they've come in and rebuilt all their churches in Savannah and upgraded their facilities. Now they're operating restaurants and everything. So from an economic point of view, they've been a wonderful

Page 10
blessing to this community and that was always his outreach and everything else. So he's created the economic flow for this community.
Savannah has improved over the years. Slowly like I've told people, I've seen the bad, the good and hopefully the best coming forward, but I've seen the city move. Everybody's emphasizing the historical significance. We've lost a lot of historical things that were prevalent to the black community when urban renewal came through. I was recently in Macon and the terminal, the last Union station in the state. I felt as a child, that our Union Station was the best and most beautiful building that I'd ever seen with the marble and all that, but it went down the tubes because of urban renewal and somebody wanted to put I-16 in here. You have some little engineer in Atlanta saying we need to put the train this way. Next thing everybody jump on board, just for the development, economic stimulus for the community. Yes, it's economic stimulus. We now have one of the biggest ports in the community because we can now move the cargo from Savannah to Atlanta and then disperse it nationwide because of that connection. But we pay the price.
We paid the price. Luckily, there were seven white women who said 'no.' See that was the difference. When they started emerging and trying to do something in the downtown area, you had the white community say no, we're going to form these groups and buy these buildings. The black community didn't have the resources to do that. That started the Historical Savannah Foundation. That's why we have a lot of these buildings that so-called save the day because of Historic Savannah. They started creating laws like our historic review board gives certain permissions and stuff. Before you can get a house painted you had to get permission, those type things. The covenants within this historic district, it's so tight that you have the complaints from a lot of people that too restrictive, but that's what saves Savannah. Now we created 1.2 billion dollars worth of industry, a new industry based on tourism because people now have seen what they did in Williamsburg and other places, and they're coming now not to see the old houses that these people saved, but everything else that's connected. You've got these tour buses and everything else. All that created wealth in the community and created jobs. Tourism like I say has slowly becoming the second largest industry within Chatham County.
So all that stemmed from historic preservation, but on the other side of it you have a lot of wealth of black history as well. A lot of the buildings and stuff that we could've probably attracted other whites to

Page 11
see a historical significance, we lost those because of quote urban renewal. We're trying to rebuild. One of my main goals and hopefully my legacy when I leave my office will be the rebuilding of the Cuyler-Brownsville neighborhood where we've gotten the city to go in, purchase up most of the land within the area and rebuild it. That will be coming on track very soon.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I'm wondering if I could just maybe come up for five minutes?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Yeah. [Recorder is turned off and then back on.]
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Cuyler-Brownsville is really it, isn't it?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Um hmm.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Just as far as the physical—
FLOYD ADAMS:
The physical aspect of it is looking good.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Not much left of the, of West Broad. Although there was the announcement last week of the Detriot retiree who has bought, I mean, that's hopeful.
FLOYD ADAMS:
It's hopeful. Walter Evans came back, loved Savannah, had the financial resources; and therefore, he was going to be able to rejuvenate that, and the whole key to it is having the resources to deal with it. The city working with it, hopefully he will succeed. It's not going to be an overnight project.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Either. This is great.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Can I get you something to drink or anything?
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I'm fine. Yeah. So you're optimistic though for you think that some, at least whatever physical—
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, the city of Savannah has launched several projects through one of our organizations to revitalize West Broad Street, maybe not in the same context as what it was because it'll never be that way. But we're trying to restore it as best we could to the old dignified uses of it. One of the projects that Cuyler-Brownsville community which ran from Henry Street all the way to Victory Drive, and on phase one the city has gone in and purchased majority of house, worked with the Sisters of Mercy to restore Heritage Place and the old Florence Street School and the old Charity Hospital. The city is going to build approximately forty-six new homes in the area, put a new street structure, put a park similar to downtown Savannah Square and to restore the dignity of that neighborhood and hopefully create a diverse neighborhood where—

Page 12
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Building forty-six new homes?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Forty-six new homes.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
On, is there enough vacant land?
FLOYD ADAMS:
There's enough vacant land.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Or will some of the old homes be torn down.
FLOYD ADAMS:
No, there's enough vacant land. We've identified, we've torn down most of the homes that were not historically significant. Those homes that were of historical significance will be restored, and we're in the process of doing those now. Unfortunately as we started the excavation we found where people had buried old batteries and all that kind of—had a car repair place there. We had to go through and remediate the land and make it safe under the EPD regs. So that held up construction. It's been now deemed safe and construction will be processed. The first fourteen houses will go out for bid beginning of September. So hopefully they will start construction very soon and get moving on it. But we've gone in for the streetscapes, and we've done all the electrical, plumbing and everything else. So everything's ready to go. That's why we ran in [unclear] escalation deal with the plumbing.
But in phase two it will go from Thirty-fourth street to Thirty-seventh street and then eventually all the way to Victory Drive. But we're working from both ends. People and developers see what we've done have gone in and started doing some other things in the area. So it's going to work out very, very well for all of us, I think. Like I say, that would be my so-called legacy to help bring that aspect of it back and so it's looking good. I'm very proud of that fact. Then on the east side of town, but you're just dealing with—I can tell you about east side.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Yeah, go ahead.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, on the east side we have a HOPE VI, seventeen million dollars HOPE VI grant basically the duplicate of what we're doing on the west side of town. So hopefully the neighborhood improvements and everything will improve and the quality of life will be better for everybody.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Where about will this be on the east side?
FLOYD ADAMS:
On the east side of town from Henry Street to Wheaton Street, we have an area called the Ben Clark neighborhood association area, which is run from Live Oak, well actually from Waters Avenue over to Bee Road and then to Victory Drive area. So what we're hoping that will happen because we're

Page 13
stimulating this with public money. Private development money will go in plus, and we'll set up some low cost loans that people can borrow from the city with no big rush to pay back to revitalize and do things in there within their own homes because everybody wants to be upgraded. Plus through our neighborhood improvement association group and we're building houses on the east side as well, same time. It's working both ways. I can take you to some streets and show you the significant changes in the neighborhood already, and that's stimulating other growth and everything.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Any plans for the, I guess it was the Old Fort?
FLOYD ADAMS:
The Old Fort is now federal housing. That was the east side of the renewal project if you want to call it that. But I can remember going down into Old Fort with my father a long time ago and really it needed changing, but then what did you replace it with? You replace it with public housing and stereotype, but now the government concept of HUD in Washington now is not to build the big high rises anymore but to build scattered site housing. That is [unclear] now so, but it was be too cost prohibitive to tear all those houses down, and then you have to deal with still relocating. But I think the housing authority could go in and do some landscaping and making it a little more attractive and do some improved lighting and that's one of the goals I will be dealing with them independently about.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I think sort of what renewal has meant to the black community has basically been displacement up until now.
FLOYD ADAMS:
It's been. It's been, right.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I'm wondering if in Cuyler-Brownsville and on the east side are you encountering resistance or suspicion from people who think that—. The danger is that those neighborhoods just become an extension of the historic district and that they either become housing for SCAD students or northerners retiring to Savannah.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, that's what is happening in the historic district, especially on the east side in Beech Institute area. The city through Mr. Law established the Beech Institute, and we went in there and did some revitalization and fixed things up and everything else, and the goal was to keep those black tenants who were living in there in their homes. We prevailed with that. But in doing so we attracted other developers who in turn came in and bought houses and remodeled. Then they saw the economics of SCAD students coming in where individuals would pay three hundred dollars for a three-bedroom home now costs

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you nine hundred dollars or a thousand dollars depending on the location or what have you. Quite naturally the average family member can't do it; so we have to deal with that displacement.
Plus the northerners and the Midwesterners because of the book and other things have come here. All over the city they're buying winter homes here and drove up the real estate market values so high that the tax structure on the houses that Mr. Law and his crowd were trying to accomplish by giving them low based rents, the taxes start rising. So they had to raise the rent, and then that defeated the program as well. So it's a Catch-22 situation in that, but getting back to what you originally asked. No, because we're not, people don't suspect of what we're doing because we're having the neighborhood meetings. We're bringing the people in explaining to them, get their input about what's going on and giving them opportunities to borrow this money from the city or make arrangements for the banks to get low interest loans so they can in turn improve their facilities themselves. But we always have those people who suspect now.
Younger whites are learning the value of those homes and the future investment of those homes where you can go and buy you a Victorian home on an average market now before say three years ago Victorian home between thirty, forty, fifty thousand dollars range and then putting say one hundred thousand dollars in it. Next thing you know you've got yourself a two hundred thousand-dollar house with space that you can't find in a conventional house. One of those Victorian homes have anywhere between two thousand and three thousand square feet in them, and so it all depends on the luxury you want to put inside it. They're realizing that they could do that and make money off of it rather than go into a subdivision and pay $150,000 and don't have anything in it, and plus they don't have to worry about commuting. With the improvement of the social life downtown and the cultural life downtown, some of them can walk to Broughton Street or walk to City Market and get a good meal and have fun and that type of thing. They feel safe and relaxed. So that is a new twist. Some people call them the yuppies of the eighties, the older terms, but now they call them the yuppies or whatever they call them. They have a name for them. But they're coming downtown and that's a new—the younger couples are coming downtown. They're buying the condos. They're buying the houses and renovating them themselves and they can deal with it. People call it gentrification, but gentrification is a good thing and bad thing, but it's also dealing with the economics of the situation as well. So we have to deal with a balance.

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KIERAN TAYLOR:
One of the keys to all of this is Savannah's ability to continue to generate income, either through tourism or through shipping and manufacturing and particularly I think when you're looking at the black community, manufacturing jobs become real important.
FLOYD ADAMS:
One of the things that I've always advocated was more vocational education. When you have a school system that is seventy-three percent African American, we need to start training people when they leave high school that they have some kind of career be it a plumber or electrician or whatever that they have some exposure. To be able to attract the industry we need here, we need a good qualified workforce and thus far we don't have that in Savannah. That will be the major thrust—it's been my thrust for the last six or seven years to really push the school system to get off of ground zero to go and start shifting from a college preparatory to some vocational training. I think if they would do that they would cut back on their drop out rate because people can do something with their hands. They get occupied in that type of situation. Plus it would save us money in the long run because those dropouts cost us money to reeducate and retrain and keep those people out of prison and everything else. So if I could just get the board of education to focus on that, we'd be ready to deal with it. But the new thrust for Savannah is the high tech, although high tech stocks are catching hell on the internet right now but stock market, but our thrust is to shift from manufacturing jobs to blue collar, white collar high tech jobs. We just recently broke ground with Georgia Tech to put a component of Georgia Tech here. They're building a new campus for it. But we have a program already in place in Georgia where students from Savannah State, Armstrong can now do two years at Armstrong, Savannah State or Georgia Southern and then switch over to the Georgia Tech program and get a degree from Georgia Tech. They do teleconferencing classes, teleconference classes and the instructors come here. They have about 400 students already enrolled.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Where's the facility going to be?
FLOYD ADAMS:
The facility is in what they call Crossroads Industrial Park. The reason why we're putting it there is that we're hoping that by putting the campus there it will attract other industries who need these type of students and put technology buildings around them who can in turn—
KIERAN TAYLOR:
The Research Triangle model.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Triangle, right. Thus far it is working very well. We've had the first graduating—
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

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KIERAN TAYLOR:
He was one of the bigwigs in Wachovia, and he was real tight in both UNC and Duke, and he was the kind of the public face that went out and sold people on the model. Yeah.
FLOYD ADAMS:
That'd be great if they would do the same thing for Savannah.
But what has saved Savannah and people debate me on this is the Clean Air Act. I don't care what people say, if we didn't clean the air up in Savannah, people would not come in because it used to smell terrible because of the paper mills and everything else. I hated to fly in here because of the smell because as you got closer to Savannah you could smell it. But now you can do it and don't worry about it but the Clean Air Act to me as far as I'm concerned is what attracts people to Savannah. We've got clean clear air. That smell is what kept people away from here. People stayed here were working in those industries, but if we had that, they wouldn't be here. The tourists wouldn't even come I don't think regardless of what type of building, old buildings you have. They just wouldn't come because of the smell. So that to me, like I say the Chamber people and everybody argue with me about it, but I think the money that we spent, the city spent and the industry spent on clean air has helped this city tremendously.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Pays in the long run.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Pays in the long run. Pays in the long run.
So that's a part of it. Whoever is in administration that's a part of it for Savannah, but we feel like, the city of Savannah I saw by traveling and listening to people and everything else I didn't want the city to become too [unclear] , go back to the black issue. If you look at Detroit, Chicago, where you've got a majority of black population, the city's dying from lack of growth and potential lack of tax base because everybody's moved out and goes to the suburbs. What I did when I became mayor, the first thing I did was annex huge acreage of land and undeveloped land, but eventually ten years from now that land would be developed and would be within [unclear] Savannah.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Make sure they're separate corporations couldn't be set up.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Our land now goes almost [unclear] to [unclear] county.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
The city geographically has expanded. I didn't realize that.
FLOYD ADAMS:
The city has expanded. That's one of the basic things I wanted to do because I've seen how Atlanta people are caught up. They can't expand; so we had this undeveloped land. I went out and got it

Page 17
first before anybody else could get it, and we had the resources to expand the infrastructure to it and make sure it happened development came. And it will be there, and we have a tax base to keep the city moving, and even if the industry doesn't come we still have a tax base to help the finances of the city grow rather than choke it up like [unclear] .
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I lived in Gary, Indiana for about seven years, and as soon as Mayor Hatcher was elected in '67, I mean, it was massive white flight took place, and a separate town incorporation was set up just outside the town limits.
FLOYD ADAMS:
I went to Gary and I almost cried. I completely thought that Hatcher, blah, blah, blah. When I went there, I was totally depressed the steel mill had just been shut down, downsizing. Scott King now is mayor, and he's trying to bring it back, but you always hear about Richard Hatcher did this. He was running around the country doing speeches when his whole city was killing, was dying. I was totally surprised.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
He had absolutely nothing. At least Savannah has the homes and the beach and some anchors. But the steel mills took up the lakefront, and there's just nothing to build on.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Nothing to build on. By traveling places like that I got the idea, and I didn't want this to happen to Savannah. So from that perspective we're taken care of.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Do you have any sort of final thoughts that you'd like to add, just about anything that we've been talking about either West Broad or the redevelopment of the city—
FLOYD ADAMS:
The biggest thing that people have to realize, West Broad Street was West Broad Street. I was over to the Hilton the other day about the Jewish veterans, and a lot of people did their training here before they went on to the Eleventh Airborne, did their training here out at Fort Stewart and Hunter, and they said this city has really changed. But from an African-American perspective, people have to realize that West Broad Street will never be what it used to be and accept that fact, and we need to move forward with developing new approaches to dealing with West Broad Street.
The major thing that people are saying you've got two separate developments because of the overpass going across. Well, they go to Chicago, they got to New York, they've got EL trains running down in the middle of the street and those things, and that doesn't impede development. It's a mindset. So you've got to get rid of that mindset like I told people, if you come down, the traffic on West Broad Street

Page 18
could not handle the traffic coming off of I-16. That was put there by design so that the traffic could come in and go down Montgomery Street and come on downtown. You have an exit there only for MLK. So you can develop on the right or the left, and it's still West Broad or MLK. So don't get any concept of either north or south. It's still West Broad Street and deal with it and move forward what we should've had. And that's why I said with the historic district, we should've had a sign ordinance similar to Hilton Head or something that will take the Burger King signs or the Wendy's signs or the Popeye signs down to make them more conforming to the street than anything else so businesses could blend in. But you can't build a condominium and open up your window and look out and all you see is a Burger King sign or cars coming down the highway. So that would impede, it depends on the mindset of people. If you're coming from New York or Washington, you're going to listen to sirens going all night, and you're going to adjust to that fact. Or walk out and you look down to another building or whatever, you're not going to be able to look out and see the river or look out and see a beach or something. You're going to look at a Burger King or a Wendy's. So that is the concept that people have to realize for the future of the development of West Broad Street.
Now further down, as I say, had people had the vision to keep the row of businesses intact or the churches intact and build behind, then we would be in good shape. But they didn't have that insight. You're not going to be able to rebuild that. So you're just going to have to deal with it and adjust and future development has to be conforming to what's there and enhance it and go forward. But it's a mindset of change.
But Savannah's a beautiful place. I love it dearly. I'm going to do everything in my power to make certain that matters continues in that vein and deal with it. But reeducating the people to that and you also have to realize too that people may take this a little difficult, but people in my generation are dying off. People in my father's generation are already died off. So the younger generations don't know anything more than what they can see now other than if they go into a history book and look at it. So it's all going to be the perception within everybody's mind of how it should look at what it's going to be. That's going to be, historians like this stuff going to have to keep the dream alive or the image alive in people's mind that this is how our forefather's lived. They didn't have the modern conveniences so they built homes to make it convenient for them with a big window so the breeze could come from the north, east, west and whatever

Page 19
so you would get a little bit of a cool. The modern day concept of building a house is not conforming because of the air conditioning or whatever. There's a rationale behind all this stuff. They need to understand that.
One of the things I had the opportunity right when I was elected mayor to go to Europe. Riding from the airport in London from the airport to downtown London on the train you look out you can see a duplicate of Savannah, Georgia almost, a duplicate with the row houses and everything else. I said well, hell even those big architects stole the idea from over here and brought it over there. So you have to look at it from that perspective. Those who don't have the ability to travel and see little things, it's a difference. It all depends on the perception. Give you a classic example. We bought the building on Abercorn and Broughton Street with the old bank. We wanted to change the façade to make it more blendable to the others that were there. But our historic review board turned us down because the architect that drew it said that was a pre-1960 avant garde architecture.
So the historic review board upheld that because it's avant-garde architecture, but other people say it's horrible, take it down. So we left it the way it was. Save us some money, but we left it the way, we did some internal stuff and the same thing on Drayton Street, Drayton and Liberty. The Drake Towers, all that glass. Some people would love for a hurricane to knock it down. But then it's a classic example of the architecture of that day. Any building in Chatham County, well any building within the city limits of Savannah, fifty years or older is considered historic. So you've got so much avant-garde stuff emerging that was built in the '60s getting close that fifty year and will be considered historical soon. So you're in a Catch-22 situation. So it's all the conception of people's mind and how they deal with it.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Who knows in fifty years that may make a lot of sense when people come to Savannah to see the avant-garde.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Avant garde architecture. Go down like South Beach in Miami. So it's a part of the trend setting situation. But we have to develop something if we're going to maintain our tourism industry the way it is we have to develop something for the children, family orientation and the like. MLK-West Broad could be done.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
This reminds me, I made a promise to my twelve year old nephew that I'd ask if the city had any plans for a skateboard park?

Page 20
FLOYD ADAMS:
They've been talking about it.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Yeah, he's an avid skateboarder at Tybee, but he says the park down there is just inadequate.
FLOYD ADAMS:
I, believe it or not, I saw a replica of a skateboard, I guess you call it, ramp being built out on South Avenue. It was at one of those warehouses out there. I don't know where they're going to place it at.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Do you think it was just a private person?
FLOYD ADAMS:
Could be? I was wondering in my mind. I need to check my legal service people.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
See where that is going.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Where it's going. They were building it—
KIERAN TAYLOR:
You'll look out your window one day.
FLOYD ADAMS:
It won't be down here. It definitely won't be down here. I know it won't be in this area. But I saw a ramp being built. I don't know whether it was doing it for them or be sectionalized to move out and take it someplace.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Well, he goes up to Beaufort. He goes down—I guess there's a couple of big parks in Florida and the kids, you pay five or ten bucks for the day and they do, they draw kids.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, we've had a little damage.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
That's the other thing to look into.
FLOYD ADAMS:
We've had a little damage because of skateboarding in downtown Savannah.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
But that could be a way to control it.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Well, we've looked at it from that perspective too.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
The park.
FLOYD ADAMS:
We've looked at it, but then you've got the liability situation too. Unless the parents come and wave all the responsibility that type of thing. We're not California, have the swimming pools where they started the ramping up and down, but it's actually ESPN they had a tournament for skateboarding. So it's becoming a good sport. But see Savannah like I say ten years ago, fifteen years ago the SCAD students injected skateboarding into Savannah because they were used as the form of transportation between classes you see them pushing and pushing and riding and some of them got to be very proficient at it. But then

Page 21
they caught on, and I guess now somebody will come out with a rule it's like a motorcycle, you have to have a helmet to ride the skateboard. Children have all the safety equipment.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Probably not a bad idea.
FLOYD ADAMS:
But tell him we're working on it.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I'll let him know.
FLOYD ADAMS:
We're working on it. Where it would be, I don't know. It will not be in the historic district. Not be in the historic district.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
That would be a pretty tough sell to the board, I think.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Yeah, unless you put it on Forsyth. Then people would complain about the parking, transportation, all that kind of stuff, the noise factor, all that kind of thing. People complained the other day about the Army was having PT training on Forsyth, and they'd get out there at six o'clock in the morning and do training and everything. It woke me up. The city ordinance says from ten to seven. They quote you ordinance when they want to. But we're helping the soldiers out. The rangers wanted to come down, battalion wanted to come down and do their physical training and then run through downtown Savannah. That upsets the people. You can't win. You can't lose. But if you need some follow up, just give me a call.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
FLOYD ADAMS:
Thank you for going with me out to the airport. I really appreciate that.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
I enjoyed it.
END OF INTERVIEW