SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Many may not realize the parking lot between the Jordan Valley Community Health Center and the Springfield Municipal Court building used to be the site of Alberta’s Hotel: a safe location in The Green Book for African Americans to stay along Route 66.
Ozarks First talked to active community member Lyle Foster about the history and significance of Alberta’s Hotel.
According to Foster, Miss Alberta Ellis purchased a former segregated hospital building for $10,000 and transformed it into a rooming house.
The rooming house included a large dining room, a rumpus room, a beauty salon, a barbershop, and a snack bar.
“This was actually part of a black business district,” said Foster. “Believe it or not, a lot of famous musicians and guests would actually stay at Miss Alberta’s Hotel as they were performing across the country.”
For many Americans, the 1950s were considered the golden age of driving. Route 66 from Chicago to Los Angeles took travelers through the nation’s heartland. However, many businesses such as hotels, diners, even gas stations refused to serve African Americans. That’s where Miss Alberta and her hotel comes in.
“The reason there was a Miss Alberta’s is because black people could not stay and were not welcome in the traditional motels and hotels along many of our cities and along the highways and byways,” said Foster. “A place like Miss Alberta’s was very significant because it gave a safe place to stay and a welcoming place to stay.”
Alberta’s Hotel eventually closed in the mid-1960s.