Kilby Hotel to undergo transformation
The Kilby Hotel has stood as a cornerstone of black history in the Washington Street Historic District and will begin a new journey as its centennial approaches.
Burtie McElrath and her daughter Myra Williams are the fourth- and fifth-generation owners of the Kilby Hotel. The city sent a notice of condemnation to the owners, but they already had plans to address it.
“We’ve always had a plan and have been going through the process of restoring the hotel,” Williams said. “The city has nothing to do with what we are trying to do with our building.”
The mother-daughter duo have had plans to renovate the property for quite some time, and they are following through with a business-residential building plan to begin construction in January.
The land for the Kilby Hotel was bought in 1910 by John and Nannie Kilby. The hotel opened for business in 1913.
The Kilby was built for Nannie and John’s children, and when the kids moved out, they rented rooms to low-income families. This, Williams said, is what the Kilby shall return to, with offices and business suites on the first and second floor and studio apartments on the third.
“We’re wanting to help, once again, lower-income families and help new businesses that are up and coming, small businesses that are just looking for something affordable,” Williams said.
Not only will it help the African-American community, but its going to bring up the neighborhood and Washington (Street) as a historical district, Williams said.
The hotel was an entertainment center for the African-American community in High Point. It was a popular spot for traveling musicians, such as Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, and one of the only places in town for black travelers to stay.
McElrath said the building is in disrepair, but that does not mean it is not repairable.
“We’re working with architects and contractors and people that know what they’re doing and we’ll get the job done,” she said. “There is no reason it can’t be back on the map.”
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