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Traveling to Charlotte – 1950’s Style

04 Jan

While we take it for granted in 2015 that we can find a hotel that fits our budget and stay anywhere we want to regardless of race and that we can find our favorite hotel chain in any town.  But it wasn’t that way in 1950; due to the Jim Crow laws on the books travelers were restricted to hotels that catered to their race and most of the hotel chains such as Marriott, Holiday Inn and Hilton were not available here in town. But, the hotel that you stayed at also depended on how much money you were willing to spend for a good night’s sleep.

Charlotte had its upscale hotels such as the Hotel Charlotte on West Trade Street which was imploded in the mid-1980’s and the Hotel William Barringer on North Tryon Street which is currently being redeveloped after being used for years as a senior citizen’s resident facility.  For African-American travelers, they were directed via the “Negro Travelers Green Book” to the Hotel Alexander was touted in the City Directory as “The South’s Finest Negro Hotel” in First Ward or the Ebony Guest House located at 214 South Myers Street in the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Ad for the Hotel Alexander in the 1950 Hill's Charlotte City Directory (image obtained via digitalnc.org)

Ad for the Hotel Alexander in the 1950 Hill’s Charlotte City Directory (image obtained via digitalnc.org)

If you didn’t have the means to stay at the Hotel Charlotte, or you were traveling by car with your family, you have a choice between the Stonewall Hotel on West Trade Street near the Southern Railroad Train Station or the T & J Hotel Courts located on Wilkinson Boulevard.

Listing for the Stonewall and T & J Motor Court from the 1950 Hill's Charlotte Directory (images via Google Images

Listing for the Stonewall and T & J Motor Court from the 1950 Hill’s Charlotte Directory (images via Google Images

The Alexander, Stonewall, T & J or Ebony Guest House no longer exist.  The Alexander closed in the 1960’s after the Civil Rights Act desegregated hotel accommodations and was burned down by the Charlotte Fire Department in a controlled burn in 1973.  The Stonewall Hotel, which was later renamed the Travelers Hotel became a transient hotel which was later closed and torn down in the mid 1990’s.  T & J Hotel Courts became a Choice Hotel, but was condemned by the City in 2011 after years of calls to police for various things such as drug dealing, prostitution and other problems, it had also become a “rental by the week” hotel that catered to those who could not afford housing in an increasing expensive housing market.  There are no records as to when the Ebony Guest House closed and torn down, I hope one of my readers can help me out with that question.

Doing my research for this entry, I found the following web sites to be very helpful:

Motel Americana – North Carolina: http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/wooda/motel/northcarolina/index.html

The American Hotel Blog by James Lileks: http://www.lileks.com/motels/NC/1.html

Mecklenburg County Real Estate Lookup (for the right address): http://meckcama.co.mecklenburg.nc.us/relookup/

I got my ads from the Hill’s 1950 Charlotte City Directory (via digitalnc.org)

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Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Buildings, History, Places

 

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