This is the New Hotel Alcazar, built 1914-15, in the Colonial Revival/Classical Revival style, another loser in the 101 Places contest. The original Alcazar was built in 1895 on an adjoining lot. The New Alcazar was intended to expand the space in the predicted economic boom in Clarksdale. The original Alcazar burned in later years. The stationery from the Alcazar billed it as the “most modern hotel in Mississippi” and “European Plan.” There seems to be a difference of opinion as to whether the European plan means providing a continental breakfast, or providing no meals. What do ya’ll think? How was the European plan implemented in the Hotel Alcazar?
Charles O. Pfeil of Memphis was the architect for the New Alcazar, designing this four-story building with eleven storefront bays. Several of the bays are visible in this photo. You can also see that the windows on the back of the building (visible just above the tree) are plain, contrasted with those on the side.
Here, a view of the front of the building reveals additional bays. From the NRHP nomination:
…windows are tripartite arrangements of sashes within square reveals..topped with flat brick soldier course arches…third and fourth story windows are 8 over 12 double hung flanked by 4 over 1 double hung…second story windows are 12 over 2 double hung flanked by 6 over 1…
…Terra cotta cornice detailed with a band of Greek fretwork…
occupies the space above the first floor bays and the second floor windows. Above the windows feature
cast-stone spring blocks and center stone panels detailed with a classical urn motif.
Also from the NRHP nomination:
…terra cotta cornice above a wide frieze, detailed with an acanthus and dart molding and a band of geometric panels of herringbone brick outline with cast stone elements…
Marjorie Kersteine, a former Clarksdale resident, compiled an oral history of the Jewish families in the Mississippi Delta during the early part of the century. The Califf branch of the family identified the week between Christmas and New Year’s as significant to Jewish families. They would travel to Clarksdale from all over the Delta, and party at the Alcazar as a time to celebrate connection and deal with the loneliness and isolation that could result from being the only Jewish people in one of the small Delta communities.
Like other businesses in Mississippi in the first half of the century, the Alcazar Hotel and Coffee Shop were all-white. After the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed, employees were instructed by the King and Anderson company (owners) to “refuse service to Negroes.” According to the US District Court ruling filed in November 1965 (Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach), Reverend Trotter of Memphis attempted to obtain a hotel room July 6, 1964, and Mrs. Vera Pigee of Clarksdale (a long-time beauty shop owner in the town) attempted to obtain service at the coffee shop. Both were refused due to their race. The following day, July 7, 1964, the owners closed the hotel and coffee shop, specifically to avoid having to provide service to blacks. July 27, the Regency Club was founded as a private club, and arrangements made with King and Anderson for use of the premises of the hotel and coffee shop. One paid $2.00 to become a “member.” The only other requirement was to be white. The Court ruled (16 months later) that the hotel could no longer operate in conjunction with the Regency Club and permanently enjoined the Regency Club from continued business, and the Alcazar from further discriminatory practices.
The vacant building was listed on the Mississippi Heritage Trust’s 10 Most Endangered Places list in May 2011.