One of the reasons that Greensboro is a favorite city of ours in North Carolina is because it is a living history museum. As a former public high school social studies teacher, it serves as a reminder of why it is so important to make history come alive. The Historic Magnolia House is one of those places that help contextualize experience history. It is always astonishing to me just how little time has passed in some of the turning points in history and the Historic Magnolia House further exemplifies this.
North Carolina Favorite: The Historic Magnolia House in Greensboro
Originally built as a private residence in 1889, the Magnolia House opened for Black travelers in 1949 as one of the only hotels between Atlanta, Georgia, and Richmond, Virginia, that allowed African American travelers to stay overnight due to lodging restrictions under Jim Crow. Between the years of 1955 and 1961, the Green Book listed The Historic Magnolia House, as one of five hotels consistently safe for Black travelers in Greensboro, North Carolina. During that time, patrons knew The Magnolia House by a few different names, including the “Magnolia Hotel” and “Magnolia Traveler’s Motel.”
Many famous African Americans stayed at the Magnolia, including Jackie Robinson, Louis Armstrong, Ike & Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Satchel Paige, and James Brown. The Historic Magnolia House is located near two historically black colleges and universities with Bennett College being right around the corner and NC A&T University close by. It is also located near Greensboro’s happening Elm St.
The Historic Magnolia House serves the community by operating as a bed and breakfast with four guest rooms, an event venue that hosts community events like jazz concerts and First Friday outings, brunch and dinner, and a learning experience for those who would like to come for a Lunch and Learn.
Learn and Learn at the Historic Magnolia House comes with shoe box meals.
During Jim Crow, Black travelers frequently carried shoebox meals as a means of staying safe when a Green Book site was not readily available. Although the Green Book provided safe places to eat, restaurants and safe places to stop could be few and far between. To keep their families safe, black women prepared shoe box meals. These meals frequently packaged in shoe boxes held foods that were less likely to spoil or require utensils. Meals generally included fried chicken, boiled or devilled eggs, fruit and vegetables, and pound cake.
By making a reservation for brunch or dinner, you are encouraged to explore the space and take in the various rooms and their respective history lessons. For example, you enter from the side door on the porch like travelers during Jim Crow would have done. There are copies of the Green Book available with zoomed-in canvases to be able to see how the Magnolia House, plus other spots, were shared.
For brunch, I ordered their Catch 42, which is the fried catch of the day, shrimp, and grits and it was out of this world delicious. David had the classic French toast with bacon. Be sure to make a reservation for brunch or dinner soon and check out their calendar for their fabulous line-up of events!
Thank you to the Historic Magnolia House for hosting us for brunch and thank you to Visit Greensboro for coordinating. As always, all opinions are my own.