Reimagining The Historic Magnolia House Motel

Jun 5, 2018

The Magnolia house stood in disrepair before the lengthy restoration process.
Credit Courtesy of The Historic Magnolia House

The Magnolia House has a rich history in Greensboro. In the 1950s, it was one of the few places that welcomed African-Americans traveling between Richmond and Atlanta. Its guest list includes stars from Duke Ellington and Ike and Tina Turner to James Brown and heavyweight champion Ezzard Charles.

Ray Charles was such a frequent visitor, he could comfortably navigate around the home, despite his impaired vision. Though the motel did not have a restaurant, the co-owner Louise Gist would often serve up home-cooked meals with biscuits and molasses.

Greensboro resident Sam Pass grew up near the Magnolia House and remembers hearing stories about the motel. When the Gist family was in jeopardy of losing the property in the mid-90s, Page stepped up to purchase, restore and preserve the space. Sam Pass joins host Frank Stasio live from the Triad Stage in Greensboro to share some of the many colorful stories that filled the Magnolia House. The space is on the National Register of Historic Places and is used today for a jazz brunch on Sundays and for private events.