Local History Students Visit Hotel Matthews Memorial

Oct 09, 2020

Mr. Boarman's Local History students ventured over to the corner of N. Howard St. to discuss the impact of the Black business and entertainment hub of Howard Street before "urban renewal" and the downfall of the rubber industry wiped out all but a few of Howard Street's once proud and thriving businesses and their buildings.

The focus of today's walking tour was Hotel Matthews. Owned and operated by George Mathews until 1976, Hotel Matthews was the first black-owned hotel in Akron and was a host to many popular names during the Jazz age such as: Ellington, Armstrong, Fitzgerald, Bassie and Calloway. Many of these jazz greats played in white-only clubs and were not permitted to stay at hotels around the city. Hotel Matthews, however, was a welcoming entity to those performers and so many more.

In 2001, a Ohio Historical Marker was added to the corner of N. Howard Street to commemorate Howard Street's importance to Akron's history and in 2012, the Hotel Matthews memorial was created after years of planning and fundraising by local artist Miller Horns. It was Horn's greatest passion and work.