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Little Richard and Ella Fitzgerald played there, now MB has new plans for the site

The long-range plan for the former site of Charlie’s Place supper club may include a market and picnic area, but city officials are first looking at renovating the central building of the old Whispering Pines Motel next door.
The long-range plan for the former site of Charlie’s Place supper club may include a market and picnic area, but city officials are first looking at renovating the central building of the old Whispering Pines Motel next door. Courtesy city of Myrtle Beach

The former site of Charlie’s Place, a venue where entertainers like Ella Fitzgerald and Little Richard played, could soon include a stage, market area and offices according to a long-term development plan released by the project’s architect.

Myrtle Beach spokesman Mark Kruea said there’s no determined timeline for the project. City staff will hold a public meeting on Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. at Mary C. Canty Recreation Center to get public comment on the plan from the neighborhood.

The city owns the land on Carver Street that used to be home to the Charlie’s Place supper club and the now-closed Fitzgerald Motel. The motel, sometimes also called Whispering Pines, was often where those entertainers stayed when segregation and Jim Crow laws were in effect.

A long-term plan shows renovations to the central building of the old motel that would turn it into a meeting space and gift shop, with bathrooms in a new addition on the back and a new porch on the front.

A second phase of the plan would convert rooms on the north side of the hotel to model how they would have looked in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, with rooms in the back for permanent businesses. The south wing of the hotel is not included in the plan because it was demolished by the city to create more space on the site back in September.

The site of the supper club, which was demolished decades ago, could include a market area, a patio, a picnic space and a stage.

The plan also includes 50 parking spaces.

Joel Carter, the architect working on the project, said it’s exciting to see it move closer to reality.

“I’ve been watching this for quite a while,” said Carter, who sits on Horry County’s architectural review board.

The city has so far paid $20,400 for architectural services. Demolition of the south side of the hotel last fall cost almost $15,000.

The motel and supper club have also grabbed the attention of Betsy Newman, a producer for South Carolina ETV who is working on a documentary piece about the venue and its importance to the development of pop music.

Newman said she hopes to have the piece finished by February.

“In the 30s and 40s these bands would play at the Ocean Forest Hotel, and basically after all the white people had gone to bed, they’d come over to clubs like Charlie’s Place and let it rip,” Newman said.

Chloe Johnson: 843-626-0381, @_ChloeAJ

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