The Metropolitan Hotel, circa 1950
Metropolitan Hotel Restoration
(Saving the Spirit)
The Metropolitan Hotel is a century old, virtually
the last standing relic of a once-vital community where more than
40 pioneering African-American businessmen engaged in commerce and
raised their families. This area of the city west of the riverfront
was also famous for its sports figures and legendary musicians.
The Metropolitan Hotel was built in 1909 by Mrs.
Maggie M. Steed when she was just 24 years old. An astute
businesswoman, she saw the need for a modern "colored" hotel soon
after she moved to Paducah in 1893. Using her husband's name, she
made a deal with a lumber company that owned the land at 724
Jackson Street. This two-story frame structure was the first hotel
for African-Americans in Paducah. Her small hotel was soon so
highly respected that in 1915 it house many members attending the
Golden Jubilee Convention of the General Association of Colored
Baptists in Kentucky. By the 1950s, the hotel had changed hands
several times, until, in 1951, it was purchased by Lester and
Olivia Gaines, renovated, and reopened in 1953. Well-known
performers who stayed at the hotel during those waning days of
segregation were BB King, Fats Domino and Ike and Tina Turner.
After desegregation, the hotel functioned as a rooming house,
finally closing its doors in 1996.
Heritage Fest '99 was organized to celebrate the
African-American heritage of Paducah and call attention to the
plight of the hotel, which had just been condemned by the city.The
Upper Town Heritage Foundation was given a year to stabilize it and
raise money for its restoration. Proceeds from Heritage Fest '99
went for immediate stabilization of the building, to ward off its
eminent demolition. The Upper Town Heritage Foundation is now
pursuing the task of saving the hotel, and actively seeking objects
and oral histories for eventual use in the restored building.
Project materials consist of a brochure, a flyer, and
a notecard by Joan Dance, an African-American artist, who also did
a water color and acrylic painting specifically for the
Metropolitan Hotel restoration project.
Originally submitted by: Ed Whitfield, Representative (1st District).
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