1950s - 1964
This business card advertises the hotel owned by Alberta Northcutt Ellis, an African American entrepreneur from the Ozarks. Ellis owned several businesses in Springfield including the Crystal Lounge and The Farm–a working farm located ten miles west of the city that also served as a roadside park for Black tourists. After World War II, Ellis purchased the old city hospital located at 617 North Benton Street, and transformed it into a hotel with a snack bar, a rumpus room, a beauty salon, and a barbershop. Alberta’s Hotel and Snack Bar became a hotspot for Black families and even entertainers. Celebrities such as Ray Charles, Roy Hamilton, and the Harlem Globetrotters stayed at the hotel.
Alberta’s hotel was located a few blocks north of Route 66, one of the nation’s first highways. This 2,400-mile road between Chicago and Los Angeles provided travelers with scenic views of both rural and urban America. In Missouri, Route 66 stretched from St. Louis headed southwest through Cuba, Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield, Carthage, and Joplin. The growth of the middle class and the availability of automobiles made road trips along Route 66 a popular pastime in the postwar years. As white Americans traversed the “Mother Road,” they enjoyed countless new cities, neon-lit motels, and cozy diners. For Black travelers, cruising the highway came with the challenges of navigating segregation and sundown towns. The Green Book helped Black tourists locate the few Black-owned businesses, like Alberta’s, that provided them a safe place to stay, eat, and shop when traveling along Route 66. Alberta’s Hotel and Snack Bar was listed in the Green Book nearly every year from 1954 to 1967.
Date: 1950s - 1964
Subject: African Americans; Automobile Travel; Directories; Hotels; Restaurants
Contributing Institution: Missouri State University Special Collections and University Archives
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