During my recent trip to High Point Furniture Market, I had the pleasure of staying at The Historic Magnolia House in Greensboro, North Carolina. The hotel, which was originally built as a home in the late 1800s, caught my attention as a designer. I was intrigued to immerse myself in a place that was once featured in The Negro Motorist Green Book introduced in 1936, and used through the 1960’s. It was a way to get gas, food, lodging, and amenities for any Black traveler driving across America. The guidebook was a valuable tool for travelers during the Jim Crow era.
The Magnolia House lobby showcases a wall of photos featuring many of the people who frequently stayed there including Gladys Knight, Logie Meachum, Lena Horne, Satchel Page, James Baldwin, and Carter G. Woodson, among others.
The Magnolia House is a destination for delicious weekend dinners and brunch.
During my stay I was served this awesome tasting French Toast! They would even box this breakfast to go for the trip to High Point!
When I arrived, the staff welcomed me with Southern hospitality and showed me to my well-appointed room.
I stayed in the 1961 Legends room, below.
The bathroom was located down the hall, which was a common feature in the 1950s hotel’s rich history. I was literally living in history venturing to the bathroom down the hall in the middle of the night! I had my own bathroom, so it wasn’t an inconvenience.
An exhibit detailing the hotel’s past and significance moved me deeply.
The intelligence, bravery, and community spirit that inspired The Green Book gave me a glimpse into the strength, determination, and resilience of our ancestors who endured unimaginable hardships.
As a child, I was told the story of how my grandmother, who was of mixed race (Black and Japanese), would book motel rooms during family trips because the motel attendant couldn’t determine her race. The rest of the family would then sneak into the motel room from the back (1940’s).
During my stay, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Natalie, the owner, who shared the unexplained magic that may be transferred to its’ recent guests (including me) from the souls who have stayed at this historic home coined “The House that Soul Built”.
Her unwavering determination and commitment to preserving and promoting our history is inspiring.
Initially, I had chosen to stay at The Magnolia Hotel because of my passion for design, but the experience surpassed my expectations. My desire to connect with my heritage has grown into a desire to inspire others to elevate themselves despite the odds. Understanding our heritage and history is a huge part folding in “who we are” into our personal environments.
The Magnolia House known by its formal name, the Daniel D. Debutts House, is on the National Register of Historic Places located in South Greensboro National Register Historic District.
Below I pulled together a composition or Flatlay sharing my parents’ wheat dishes, family’s red pressed drinking glass and vintage fabric. I love the timeless color combination! I purchased a copy of The Green Book at the International Civil Rights Center which I will share in another blog.