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Carlton Plaza Hotel

The Carlton Plaza was designed by Louis Kamper and built by the Bollin-McKinney Hotel Company, opening on May 31, 1924. A Free Press ad said, “Aristocratic in Appearance, Although Exceedingly Democratic in Price.” During the 1920s and 1930s, it became a go-to spot for jazz artists and affluent Black visitors. In particular, Della Reese was noticed for her singing there while working as a telephone operator.

A March 13, 1955 police raid on a party held in one of the hotel’s suites led to a court order to close the hotel as a site of “public nuisance,” to the shock of owner Edward Swan. Eventually, it was purchased, refurbished, and (temporarily) renamed the Capri Plaza by Arthur Cartwright, a leading Black hotel owner from the period. Its name was apparently changed back to the Carlton by 1960, when Jet magazine called it “the premier destination for the discriminating negro.”

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