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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

GREEN, SAMUEL CLAYTON

GREEN, SAMUEL CLAYTON

GREEN, SAMUEL CLAYTON (1872-25 Apr. 1915), was an African American businessman called "the most successful legitimate businessman" among a new generation of elite black entrepreneurs in Cleveland at the turn of the century. Born in Winterpark, Virginia, Green was the son of Waverly and Lilly (Lane) Green. Little biographical information is available, but city directories suggest he began with the short-lived S. C. Green Hardwood Lumber Co. in 1901. In 1902 he patented a sofa bed and, with 16 stockholders, organized the New Leonard Sofa Bed Co., owned by and employing only AFRICAN AMERICANS. Green moved into real estate and construction in 1903, incorporating the Mohawk Realty Co. with Welcome T. Blue, building homes and erecting the Clayton Bldg. He also invested in a laundry (the Eureka Co.) and a restaurant, and in 1906 established Clayton Grocery Store and People's Drug Store. In 1907 he purchased a church building at E. 37th and Cedar, remodeling it into a skating rink and dance hall; and in 1911 he purchased a motion-picture and vaudeville theater, forming the S. C. Green Amusement Co. to operate it as the Alpha Theater. Green's business ventures were designed to turn segregation and discrimination to his advantage, but the drug and grocery stores lasted less than 5 years because of insufficient support from black customers. Insufficient black patronage for the roller rink led Green to institute "white only" nights twice a week, one result of which was a 1909 lawsuit by Walter L. Brown charging discrimination after he had been refused entry on a "white night"; Brown won the suit.

Green married Mary French in 1907; they had no children. He died in Cleveland and was buried in WOODLAND CEMETERY.