Meridian: Traveling with the Green Book in Mississippi

Our next stop in using Victor Green’s The Green Book, assurance of accommodation for the African American traveler from 1936-1967, is Meridian.  The year 1939 was the first year Mississippi was listed in the Green Book, with only 6 hotels.  One of them was Meridian’s Beales Hotel at 2411 Fifth Street.

The Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory, identifes a Beale’s Cafe at 2411 Fifth Street, begun in 1910 by John Beale.  From the image, I am speculating that the cafe was on the first floor, and the single entry door to the right led to the stairs up to the second floor hotel rooms.  The building was described as a two-story, brick commercial building with a “…flat roof…parapet, projecting metal cornice, paired brackets, storefront with three plate glass doors, display windows, ceramic tile, metal awnings, second floor with paired 1/1 double hung sash windows with stone sills and lintels with projecting brick surrounds” (Linda Ford, December 14, 2004, National Register for Historic Places Amendment for Meridian Downtown Historic District).

In 1955, the Green Book added the 1946-constructed E. F. Young Hotel at 500 25th Avenue, and in 1956, the Hotel Henderson at 2507 5th Street.  The building that occupied 2507 is not extant, as only a concrete slab remains at the location.

The western part of the historic district has a long historical association with the African-American community.  This part of the downtown area, centered around the intersections of 25th Avenue and Fourth and Fifth Streets, has been the black commercial section of Meridian from the turn of the 2th century to the present.  Important landmarks still extant in this area include the E. F. Young Hotel at 2416-2420 Fifth Street…(Linda Ford, December 14, 2004, NRHP Amendment Meridian Downtown Historic District)

E. F. Young Hotel was a

two-story, stucco-clad with pebble texture…saw tooth cornice, four storefronts with off center, wood and glass doors, display windows, clerestory, stringcourse, inset panels, stringcourse, second floor with 4/4 double hung sash windows, lintels, awnings, neon signage. (Ford, 2004)

WTOK featured a February 11, 2016 article about the potential renovation of the hotel and storefronts of the block into an entertainment and mixed-use area.

 



Categories: African American History, Historic Preservation, Hotels, Meridian

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6 replies

  1. Very interesting. I follow this blog daily. Thank you

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  2. Another well-researched and enlightening post–bravo!

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  3. Reading the WTOK article, I now have an idea why the Young family has been so willing to engage in demolition by neglect throughout their substantial property holdings in the historic black business district.

    From the article: “Young says his family is involved with the long term plan is to revitalize the area all the way from 25th Avenue to 23rd Avenue. In fact, he says in the green space near the old Young Hotel Building, his family is planning to build structures for use. He says they’ve already started Phase One of the effort, but work on Phase Two can only begin once work that’s being done by the city in that area ends.
    According to city officials, all of the work that’s being done in that area by the city and state is on track to be finished by the end of this year.”

    There are several places Charles Young, Jr. could be referring to because there are so many green spaces near the Young Hotel. The most recent was created when the Fielder & Brooks Drug Store/COFO Building, owned by Charles Young’s sister, Veldore, was demolished after decades of both neglect and obstruction to any restoration plans. That building is not the only one, as it is one of thirteen buildings demolished within a one block radius of the Young Hotel since the area was listed on the National Register (the number increases to seventeen if you add the half block between 23rd and 24th Ave. and the buildings that have nothing remaining except front facades.

    Their actions indicate that the Young family believes it is more economically beneficial to them to demolish Meridian’s historic black business district and start with a clean slate for condo development. Between this and the Farish Street debacle, there will very soon come a point when there will be almost no built environment left showing how blacks were able to persevere through the long years of Jim Crow.

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