The MAJESTIC HOTEL was the largest hotel in Cleveland that catered to AFRICAN AMERICANS and, in its last 23 years, the largest black-owned hotel in Ohio. Opened 1907 as Majestic Apartments, the 5-story, 250-unit brick building at 2291 E. 55th St. (N.E. corner of Central Ave.) in Cedar-Central (see CENTRAL [NEIGHBORHOOD]) became the city’s premier hostelry for black visitors to Cleveland in the 1920s, although it also continued to serve as a residential hotel. The hotel was owned by Josef Weiss from 1921 to 1944. From the late 1930s to the mid 1960s the Negro Motorist Green Book listed the Majestic Hotel among Cleveland’s few reliably hospitable accommodations for black travelers. In 1941, Weiss’s nephew, a refugee who fled Nazi persecution in Hungary, killed a young woman in his room in the hotel—one of two murders at the Majestic that year. In 1944, military officials declared the hotel off limits to servicemen, citing concerns about prostitution, but after an investigation demanded by the FUTURE OUTLOOK LEAGUE, the U.S. War Dept. rescinded the order. That same year, ALONZO G. WRIGHT, LAWRENCE O. PAYNE, and WILLIAM O. WALKER purchased the Majestic Hotel, bringing it under black ownership for the first time. Wright managed the hotel and oversaw its complete renovation.

The Majestic Hotel housed a number of businesses during its heyday. In 1934, the Majestic Grill opened, serving New Orleans Creole and American fare prepared by “Mammy” Louise Brooks. Two years later the restaurant reopened as Sadie’s and offered “Home Cooked Food.” A number of services operated inside the hotel between the 1930s and 1950s, including a pharmacy, tailor, beauty salon, barber shop, dentistry office, automobile driver’s license bureau, and even a psychic reader. The hotel’s nightclub, opened as the Furnace Room in 1931 and later renamed the Heat Wave (1934-37) and the Ubangi Club (1938-44) before finally reopening as the Rose Room in 1944, was home to popular jazz performances, cabaret-style shows, and, later, rhythm-and-blues concerts. Between 1952 and 1957, pianist Duke Jenkins headed the Rose Room’s house band. Jenkins held “Blue Monday Party” jam sessions every Monday night that featured nationally known acts. The Majestic was located in the heart of what many called “Cleveland’s Harlem” and its club attracted a similar integrated clientele. For many years the hotel was also the starting point for black fraternal parades. The Majestic closed in 1967, a casualty of civil rights advances that brought greater acceptance of African Americans in public accommodations. The hotel was demolished to build the GOODWILL INDUSTRIES Rehabilitation Center, which opened in 1972.

Mark Souther

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