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Miami Dade College Unveils Restored Mural at its Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower Mural

The restored mural at MDC's Freedom Tower was recently unveiled by U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, MDC President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, Dade Heritage Trust CEO Becky Roper Matkov, Sylvia G Iriondo, president of Mothers Against Repression, and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz (Left to Right). The iconic building was designated a National Historic Landmark last fall.

Miami, April 13, 2009 - Miami Dade College (MDC) unveiled the restored mural at its Freedom Tower on Apr. 9. During a special ceremony, the college showcased the recently restored New World map mural located on the mezzanine floor of the Freedom Tower, designated a National Historic Landmark last fall.   
U.S. Senator Mel Martinez, who has been instrumental in obtaining funding for the college and the Freedom Tower and a central figure in the Tower’s national landmark designation, spoke at the event along with Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, MDC’s president; Becky Roper Matkov, CEO of the Dade Heritage Trust; Sylvia Iriondo, president of Mothers Against Repression; and City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz.

“It is an honor to be involved with this wonderful project to successfully restore this historical map within the Tower.  I commend Miami Dade College,” said Senator Martinez. 

Senator Martinez secured federal appropriations for the Freedom Tower.  This is the source of funds for the mural restoration and other projects being planned for the landmark. The progressing and evident deterioration of the mural made this the logical first step in the application of these federal dollars.  The historic mural was restored at a cost of $66,720.  

“This restoration was made possible through a team effort. However, we all owe special gratitude to Sen. Martinez,” added Dr. Padrón. “Thanks to his efforts not only has this mural been preserved, but this entire building, as a National Historic Landmark. The Freedom Tower serves as Miami’s beacon of hope as we all look forward toward a brighter future, reminding us where we all came from and where we’re all going with limitless possibilities.” 

The forty-foot mural has been a part of the building since it first opened its doors in 1925 as the original home of the Miami Daily News.  It provided for an interesting backdrop when this room served as the newspaper’s Composition and Advertising Room. It is also etched in the memories of the Cuban Americans who passed through the building years later as it served as the Cuban Refugee Assistance Center, “el Refugio,” the site where the federal government processed the entry of hundreds of thousands of Cuban refugees in the 1960s and ‘70s. 

During an earlier Freedom Tower restoration effort in 1988, the mural had to be essentially recreated as it was almost completely destroyed by the ravages of time and neglect. MDC’s Art Gallery System commissioned the most recent restoration. The Evergreen Restoration Group of New York stabilized the surface, cleaned away mold and other contaminants, and restored missing elements, bringing the mural close to its original condition. The “New World” mural is a symbol of shared heritage. The mural’s center image presents Ponce de Leon and the Tequesta chief in front of a map of the New World.

As MDC now serves as the proud steward of the Freedom Tower, thanks to its donation to the college by Pedro Martin and family, it is using the building as a significant educational and cultural center. In the recent years since MDC acquired it, the iconic building has been used for major art exhibitions, including showcasing the works of masters Dalí, Goya and Da Vinci, and for important presentations, including speeches by former Spanish Prime Minister Jose María Aznar and prolific writer Tom Wolfe.

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,

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