One of San Diego's finest, The Douglass Hotel


The Douglass Hotel
Date: 
Fri, 1924-01-25

*This date celebrates the founding of The Douglass Hotel of San Diego in 1924. This was an entertainment business and place to stay for African Americans in the West.

Lodging accommodations in San Diego during the early twentieth century were not available to Black people in White establishments. The social consciousness of this period is reflected in the name given the hotel. The front facade was plastering over masonry of this a two-story, square, brick building; over the double front doors is a neon marquee that still reads "The Douglass." The Hotel opened in mid-winter of that year under ownership of Robert and Mabel Rowe and George Ramsey.

The owners reached into the annals of history and selected the name Frederick Douglass, the Rowe’s for years successfully operated Ideal Rooms, a large Victorian lodging house at the corner of Market and Second. Around 1923, that structure was razed to make room for a two-story brick building. The Douglass Hotel had 45 sleeping rooms, a bar, a restaurant, and a 500-person-capacity ballroom. It was the ballroom, operated as a cabaret that made this establishment extraordinary. The cabaret, known as the Creole Palace, was rather fashionable during its heyday. During the 1920s, jazz music had permeated the nation's entertainment circles.

The Douglass Hotel provided Black San Diegans, in a city otherwise closed to them, a stylish nightspot to hear the popular music. The Creole Palace had its own band and chorus line, and it regularly booked local entertainers and musicians. Although unable to secure bookings with big-name jazz musicians, the hotel's owners did host after-hour sessions at which these celebrities appeared. The Douglass operated continuously as a hotel for more than 30 years. In 1956, Mabel Rowe Ramsey, by then the sole proprietor, sold the business. Today, it is a group home operated by Alcoholics Anonymous.

Reference:
The National Park Service

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