“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Roanoke, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Henry Street Business District

Henry Street Business District Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Devry Becker Jones, April 24, 2021
1. Henry Street Business District Marker
African-American Commercial Center
Henry Street, also known as First Street, N.W., served as the commercial and entertainment center for African-Americans in Roanoke during the first half of the 20th Century. During the days of Jim Crow segregation, Henry Street was where black citizens shopped, dined, socialized, and sought medical, legal and other professional services. Many folks referred to Henry Street as "The Yard" after "Uncle Billy" Frogg Salters nicknamed it that following a friendly card game in 1922.

Henry Street is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is significant for its role in commerce/trade, entertainment/recreation, health/medicine and black ethnic heritage. Over three hundred businesses operated at different times on Henry Street from 1915 until the 1970s.

The vibrant business district and its colorful lifestyle were destroyed by urban renewal during the 1950s and 1960s. Surviving buildings (shown on the map in orange) are the Hotel Dumas (1917), the Strand Theatre (1923), and several small buildings (1940s). Today, the Claude Moore Culinary Institute operates from the theatre
</small>Henry Street Business District Marker (<i>wide view</i>)<small> image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 15, 2019
2. Henry Street Business District Marker (wide view)
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and adjacent buildings.

Hotel Dumas and the Strand Theatre
The Hotel Dumas was originally constructed as the Hotel Hampton. It consisted of 26 guest rooms and hosted a cleaning service, snack bar, ice cream parlor, dining room, pool rooms, and a 2nd floor ballroom.

When the Strand Theatre opened, it had a capacity of 703 persons and was equipped with an organ and modern projecting machines. In 1924, Oscar Micheaux, one of the first African-American film producers, established an office and film company in the Strand Theatre. The Virginia Theatre operated there between 1933-34. After closing as a movie theater, the building became an entertainment venue. It operated as The Lincoln Theatre (1935-1945), Club Morocco (1945-61), and the Ebony Club (1962-65). While playing at the theater or other locations in Roanoke, many well-known African-American entertainers stayed at the Dumas, including Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Fats Waller, Ethel Waters, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Fats Domino, Dizzy Gillespie, Sam Cooke, Nat King Cole, and James Brown.

Of Special Interest
Dr. Lylburn Downing had an office in one of the remaining buildings in the Henry Street Business District at 31 Centre Avenue. He was the first African-American physician accepted as a member of the Roanoke Medical Society and was superintendent of Burrell Memorial Hospital,
</small>Hotel Dumas (<i>preserved Henry Street building</i>)<small> image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 15, 2019
3. Hotel Dumas (preserved Henry Street building)
established in 1915 at 311 Henry Street.

Oliver White Hill, a pioneer civil rights attorney, practiced law in the Brooks Building (40 Centre Avenue) from 1934-36 following his graduation from Howard University School of Law. Working with the Virginia NAACP, he was instrumental in ending school segregation in the 1950s through his legal challenges (Davis v. School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia and Brown v. Board of Education).

Businesses on Henry Street during the 1930s and 1940s
Hotels and Theatres
Dumas Hotel • Palace Hotel • Strand/Virginia/Lincoln Theater

Civic and Social Organizations
Assoc. Colored Trainmen & Locomotive Firemen • Dining Car Employee Club • Magic City Protective Club • NAACP • Peoples Aid Society • Veterans of Foreign War

Beauty and Barber Shops
Alice Johnson, Beauty Shop • Antiseptic Barber Shop • Bertha Jones, Hairdresser • Bright Light Barber • Dumas Barber Shop • Gertie Brown, Beauty Salon • Hampton Barber Shop • Joseph Reynolds, Barber • Lafayette Sanitary Barber Shop • Lloyd’s Beauty Salon • M. Howard, Beauty Salon • Mattie Cornwall, Hairdresser • Miller’s Antiseptic Barber Shop • Modern Manner Beauty Salon • Nora Warren, Beauty Shop • Pearl Jones, Beauty Shop • Virginia Sanitary Barber Shop

Professional Offices
</small>Strand Theater (<i>preserved Henry Street building</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 15, 2019
4. Strand Theater (preserved Henry Street building)
Operated as: Strand Theater, Virginia Theater, Lincoln Theater, Club Morocco and Ebony Club
Real Estate • H. Claytor, Law • Henry Dolphin, Law • Joe Wagstaff, Contractors • Magic City Business & Loan Assoc. • North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance • Northside Finance • Maxie Rayford, Plumber

Restaurants and Grocery Stores
Aristides Tampasis Restaurant • Atlantic Sandwich Shop • Bevo Lunch • Botrous Wheby, Confectioners • Botrous Wheby, Groceries • Canada's Ice Cream • Charles Mitchell, Baker • Charles Tampus, Restaurant • Clara Hughes, Restaurant • Day and Night Lunch • Dell's Restaurant • Dumas Coffee Shop • Dumas Ice Cream • Finney & Gilliams • Gillies Diner • Gill’s • Gill-Finney Cafι • Henry Street Lunch • Horse Shoe Cafι • Ideal Cafe • Jack-Mac-Jill Ice Cream • Jamison Stones, Groceries • John Cavalaris, Restaurant • John Kleitches, Restaurant • Kroger • L & L Bakery • M & M Coffee Shop • M & M Tea Room • Mitchell Donut • Nicholas Lampros, Restaurant & Billiards • R Burrell, Restaurant • Rob Hartwell, Restaurant • Santon Faddoul, Groceries • The Spot Restaurant • Thomas Whitfield, Restaurant • Virginia's Place • Ware's Restaurant

Entertainment and Recreation
Cooper Billiards • Deluxe Billiards • Dumas Recreation • First Street Pool Parlor • George Marshall, Billiards • Jennie Woodliff, Billiards • Joseph Gill, Billiards • Kings Sports Center • Ideal Athletic Club • Star Social Club • Lynnhaven Pool
Dr. Lylburn Downing Office <br>(<i>preserved Centre Avenue building</i>) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, May 15, 2019
5. Dr. Lylburn Downing Office
(preserved Centre Avenue building)
Hall • Manhattan Pool • Morocco Club • Richard Smith, Billiards • Robert Young, Billiards • Sailor Smith's Gym • Smith Brothers Recreation • Star City Social • Tom's Pool Parlor • William Davis, Billiards • Wooliff Pool Hall

Automotive and Appliance
Day & Night Taxi • General Radio Service • Radio, TV & Electrical Service • Robinson Electric Supply • Star Taxi • Tom's Service Station • WAGS Radio

Shoe Shine Parlors
Blue Front Shine • Broadway Shoe Shine • Economy Shoe Repair • Fred Jennings, Shoe Shine • H. Lowe, Shoe Shine • John Patrick, Shoe Shine • John White, Shoe Shine • Mitchell Shoe Shine • Robinson Shoe Repair • Sunlight Shoe Parlor • William McNeil, Shoe Shine

Pharmacy and Medical
Brooks Pharmacy • Community Drug Store • Dr. Thomas Brodnax, Dentist • Dr. William Fears, Dentist • Dr. George Moore. Physician • Dr. Harry Penn, Dentist • Dr. Shoun, Chiropodist • Dr.s Whehy and Yancey • Powell Medicine • Progressive Drug Store

Clothing and Cleaners
Crichton Page, Tailor • Deluxe Laundry • Economy Sewing • Edward Oliver, Cleaners • Ernest Wade, Tailor • Ideal Laundry and Cleaners • Kleensall, Inc. Cleaners • Magic City Laundry • Modern Cleaners & Dyers • Prunty & Prunty Cleaners • Reed's Cleaners • Roanoke Steam Laundry • Robert Pindle, Tailor
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• Royal Dry Cleaners • Walter Hale, Cleaners & Dyers • Webb Cleaners & Dyers

Retail Stores and Newstands
Broadway Smoke Shop • Charles Mitchell Cigars • Community News • Cut Rate Army Navy • Idle Rich Smoke Shop • Lynnhaven Smoke Shop • Polk Printing Establishment • Roanoke Photo & Record • B. Shapiro, General Merchandise • Rufus White, General Merchandise • Scott Paint Shop • The Phono Album • United Art Metal & Novelty

Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansCivil RightsEntertainmentIndustry & Commerce. In addition, it is included in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities series list.
Location. 37° 16.503′ N, 79° 56.532′ W. Marker is in Roanoke, Virginia. Marker is on Henry Street Northwest north of Loudon Avenue Northwest, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located at the northwest corner of the Claude Moore Education Complex building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 109 North Henry Street, Roanoke VA 24016, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Hunton Life Saving And First Aid Crew (within shouting distance of this marker); Oscar Micheaux (within shouting distance of this marker); Atlantic, Mississippi and Ohio Railroad Depot
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(about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge (about 700 feet away); First Train to Big Lick (about 700 feet away); The Influence of Churches in Gainsboro (about 700 feet away); A Once-Vibrant African American Community (about 800 feet away); Social and Cultural Life (about 800 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Roanoke.
Regarding Henry Street Business District. National Register of Historic Places #04001276 (2004) & Virginia Historic Landmark (2004)
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Henry Street Business District
Also see . . .
1. Claude Moore Education Complex • Building History. The Complex is housed in downtown Roanoke’s old Ebony Club, which was built circa 1920 as the Strand Theater. It was there, in the early- to mid-1920s, that one of the first African-American filmmakers, Oscar Micheaux, had an office for his production company, the Oscar Micheaux Film Corporation. After producing several films in Roanoke, Micheaux moved to New York to continue producing, and the Strand Theater took the name “The Lincoln Theater.” The theater eventually became the Morocco Club and the Ebony Club, which were African-American dance clubs serving the surrounding Gainsboro neighborhood. The building has also housed a doctor’s office, record shop, barbershop, and shoe shine business that historically served the surrounding African-American community. (Submitted on May 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Henry Street Historic District. The Henry Street Historic District encompasses four contributing buildings constructed between 1917 and 1951. They were developed as the central business and entertainment district for the African-American neighborhood of Gainsboro in Northwest Roanoke. They are the Hotel Dumas (1917), The Strand Theatre (1923), Dr. Lylburn Downing office (c. 1945), and a commercial building (1951). (Submitted on May 31, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 30, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 286 times since then and 94 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on April 30, 2021, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia.   2. submitted on May 30, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.   3, 4, 5. submitted on May 31, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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May. 18, 2022