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Upcoming Projects

The Travelers Hotel, the oldest remaining example in the Bluefield region of Black entrepreneurship in the hospitality business.

The Travelers Hotel building, a contributing structure in Bluefield's downtown commercial historic district, was built in the early 1920s. The York Masonic Investment Corporation, a Black Masonic organization, bought the property in 1921 and operated the Travelers Hotel, marketing the hotel as “catering exclusively to colored people,” according to a listing in a Bluefield business directory from that period. The property was included in the Green Book, the annual guidebook for African American travelers. The building is the oldest remaining example in the Bluefield region of Black entrepreneurship in the hospitality business.

The Travelers Hotel is adjacent to the Granada Theater, which opened in 1928. Black entertainers, although performing before White audiences, were also prevented from using White-only businesses. Although no documented evidence exists to confirm this assumption, the Travelers Hotel must have been frequented by the many Black artists and entertainers who took the stage at the Granada Theater given the convenience and safety of staying next door to the venue.

Hotels listed in the Green Book, such as the Travelers Hotel, provided a refuge and a respite for African American travelers who were subjected to then-legal discrimination by owners of businesses.

Image Source: Black by God The West Virginian, Lessons Learned Traveling with 'The Green Book '

In the early 1950s, the Travelers Hotel building was sold to a local businessperson who converted the property for office use. Beginning in 1953, the property was owned by a local utility company and became known as “the gas company building.”

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph, October 11, 1950, pg 3
Source: Newspaper Archive by Storied

BARC's proposed project

BARC’s proposed project - which would stabilize, preserve, and adapt the building for reuse - is an opportunity to recognize the historical significance of this property, which has been largely forgotten since the conversion of the property to an office building in the 1950s.

The project will restore the historic legacy of the Travelers Hotel building, helping to educate and inform residents of the history of Black entrepreneurship in Bluefield. Our hope is that this legacy will act to inspire current citizens to become business owners.


Since the 1990s, the property has been vacant.  Before BARC took ownership in December of 2022, the roof had failed and water damage to the interior structure was severe. Because of structural damage to the interior, the upper floors can no longer be safely accessed. The only salvageable features of the interior are tin ceiling tiles on the first floor.

The proposed project would demolish the interior, including floors, ceilings, and interior walls. The four exterior walls, which are structurally sound, would be stabilized and preserved. The roof would be removed and replaced. The construction which would follow this work would build ten one-bedroom and studio apartments within the existing space. On the ground floor, what was once the lobby of the Travelers Hotel would be used as community space featuring exhibits of African American history in Bluefield. No changes would be made to the footprint of the building. All construction would be within the existing four walls. The front entrance and storefront windows facing Raleigh Street would be restored to their appearance when the building was used as a hotel.

The project will bring new apartments to downtown Bluefield for the first time in decades. There is significant demand for safe, decent, and affordable housing in Bluefield. Importantly, the city has identified the lack of rental housing options as an impediment to economic growth in the city. As a result, the city's comprehensive plan cites the development of rental housing as a priority for the community. This project will begin to address those needs. Rental rates will be set such that the apartments will be affordable to individuals and families at a range of income levels.

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