This former “Green Book” hotel reopens its doors after more than 50 years
For the first time in more than 50 years, the Historic Magnolia House in Greensboro will reopen next month as both a tribute and a near visual replica of itself: one of the few hotels in the southern United States. which allowed black travelers to stay overnight in the mid-1900s, due to restrictions imposed by the Jim Crow laws (which legalized racial segregation).
The establishment rose to fame after being featured in six editions of The black motorist’s green book, a popular resource for African American roadtrippers created by Victor H. Green in 1949, the same year Magnolia House was founded. “Green included safety tips hidden in the book and readers got to know where to look for those tips in the publication,” says Natalie Miller, hotel owner and founder of the. Magnolia House Foundation. “Its main function was to list safe places for African American travelers to stay, eat and visit, but it really offered more than just a list – it was a crucial safety communication tool.”
The hotel, which has served as a sanctuary for many prominent blacks including Ray Charles, Jackie Robinson, Ike and Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, James Baldwin and Louis Armstrong, is one of four Green Book institutions still operating in North Carolina. Redesigned by a local design company Lively interiors (which was inspired by a classic 1960s jazz lounge), the renovated hotel is almost identical to its appearance when it launched 72 years ago.
“The entire staircase in the house, including the stairs themselves as well as the handrails, are original from the historic Green Book hotel,” Miller said. “There are also tiles on various fireplaces throughout the house as well as wood components like parts of the original hotel flooring from 1949.”
The lovingly updated broadcast showcases a rich palette of bold hues, from neon pink and teal to chartreuse, along with a handful of other scathing spaces (a nod to its Green Book history). The boutique lodge includes four guest suites, each named and designed to reflect the spirit of famous former guests.
While the Carlotta Room celebrates soul queens (Knight and Turner), the Legends Room pays homage to sports superstars such as Robinson. The Baldwin Room honors African-American intellectuals like the famous writer, while the Kind of Blue Room celebrates the friendship between iconic musician Miles Davis and the original hotel owner, Buddy Gist.
The hotel’s on-site restaurant will liven up its Sunday brunch, featuring classic Southern fare such as creamy oatmeal and fried fish. Additionally, the kitchen will feature “shoe boxes” – a tribute to the packaged meals black travelers would often take on the road.
Miller’s father, Sam Pass, bought the dilapidated building – located minutes from downtown Greensboro – in 1996 and immediately began restoring the long-neglected property, which had fallen into disuse in the 1970s.
“It means to me the world that I can continue the important work my dad did,” Miller said. “I am honored to carry his vision across the finish line and to see it activated. When you hear about family and corporate inheritance, you often think of that father and son relationship, but in our history it’s the special father-daughter relationship that keeps The Historic Magnolia House going after all these years.
“Restoring this property is our way of carrying on our family’s legacy and continuing the great work and activism that the African American pioneers of our family did,” she continues. “We are saving this important part of black history and we are honored to be able to uncover its untold history and share it with the world. “
Rates for the historic hotel, which will also serve as a venue for weddings and other private events, start at $ 200 per night. Ready to book a stay? This way!
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