Plans to bring a cultural and economic resource center to Carver Street could mean the demolition of much of the former Fitzgerald Motel that served as a safe place for blacks to stay during segregation.
Fitzgerald Motel and the now-demolished Charlie’s Place in the once-segregated Booker T. Washington neighborhood of Myrtle Beach once was the site of performances from renowned artists including Little Richard, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles. Myrtle Beach purchased the motel property for $150,000 earlier this summer.
$150,000 Amount city of Myrtle Beach paid for the former Fitzgerald Motel
Myrtle Beach resident Herbert Riley, who recently formed the Carver Street Economic Renaissance Corp. nonprofit with a group of other local residents, said board members and city staff met last week to discuss the future of the building at 1420 Carver St.
“I don’t want the building torn down, but I do understand that parts of the building are beyond repair,” Riley said.
Councilman Wayne Gray, who attended the meeting last week, said that the 1.5-acres where the motel stands can be used as an impetus for economic growth.
Fitzgerald Motel was included in the spring 1956 The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, which was published as a way to provide black motorists and tourists with the information to stay, eat, and sight-see safely during the days of segregation and Jim Crow
Riley said he hopes to be able to build some type of museum and cultural center that includes the history of Carver Street and use that as a catalyst for redevelopment on what he calls a blighted street in Myrtle Beach.
Riley said it is important to maintain the history of the motel, which was included in the spring 1956 The Negro Travelers’ Green Book. The book was published as a way to provide black motorists and tourists with the information to stay, eat, and sight-see safely during the days of segregation and Jim Crow.
Gray said he envisions a type of economic and community center on the motel property that could include a cafe, meeting room and offices for local minority-owned businesses.
“To do that, you almost have to start from a vacant piece of land,” he said.
The city has not set aside additional money for any future development there as leaders continue to determine what exactly will be built.
Riley, who updated City Council about the group’s board members last week, said the organization would meet during the next few weeks to determine the best concepts for what an economic renaissance on Carver Street would look like.
I don’t want the building torn down, but I do understand that parts of the building are beyond repair.”
Myrtle Beach resident Herbert Riley
A museum would serve as the reason that tourists, especially black tourists, would travel to Carver Street and once they were there they could visit the new businesses in the area, Riley said.
Riley said the board has held a few informal meetings over the past few months and will get together next week to discuss what the revitalization will look like.
Gray said there also was discussion of improving the streetscape on Carver Street, beginning at 21st Avenue North and working south.
Over the next few weeks, city staff will complete an inventory of the building to find out which pieces of the building can be saved. The economic renaissance group and city staff plan to meet again in the next month or so.
Carver Street Economic Renaissance Corp. board of directors
Roddy Brown – retired teacher and Booker T. Washington neighborhood property owner
Rosa Knox – civil rights organization liaison
Johnny Evans – former Horry County Board of Education member
Terrance Herriott – Conway National Bank loan officer, will serve as treasurer
Dino Thompson – Myrtle Beach business owner
Joel Carter – architect and historian
Robert Williams – retired military and police officer
Edna Wright – city liaison, will serve as secretary