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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
The Metropolitan Hotel, circa 1950
The Metropolitan Hotel, circa 1950

Metropolitan Hotel Restoration (Saving the Spirit)

The Metropolitan Hotel is a century old, virtually the last standing relic of a once-vital community where more than 40 pioneering African-American businessmen engaged in commerce and raised their families. This area of the city west of the riverfront was also famous for its sports figures and legendary musicians.

The Metropolitan Hotel was built in 1909 by Mrs. Maggie M. Steed when she was just 24 years old. An astute businesswoman, she saw the need for a modern "colored" hotel soon after she moved to Paducah in 1893. Using her husband's name, she made a deal with a lumber company that owned the land at 724 Jackson Street. This two-story frame structure was the first hotel for African-Americans in Paducah. Her small hotel was soon so highly respected that in 1915 it house many members attending the Golden Jubilee Convention of the General Association of Colored Baptists in Kentucky. By the 1950s, the hotel had changed hands several times, until, in 1951, it was purchased by Lester and Olivia Gaines, renovated, and reopened in 1953. Well-known performers who stayed at the hotel during those waning days of segregation were BB King, Fats Domino and Ike and Tina Turner. After desegregation, the hotel functioned as a rooming house, finally closing its doors in 1996.

Heritage Fest '99 was organized to celebrate the African-American heritage of Paducah and call attention to the plight of the hotel, which had just been condemned by the city.The Upper Town Heritage Foundation was given a year to stabilize it and raise money for its restoration. Proceeds from Heritage Fest '99 went for immediate stabilization of the building, to ward off its eminent demolition. The Upper Town Heritage Foundation is now pursuing the task of saving the hotel, and actively seeking objects and oral histories for eventual use in the restored building.

Project materials consist of a brochure, a flyer, and a notecard by Joan Dance, an African-American artist, who also did a water color and acrylic painting specifically for the Metropolitan Hotel restoration project.

Originally submitted by: Ed Whitfield, Representative (1st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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