Side A: The center of African-American culture in Akron during the mid-20th century, Howard Street was home to many of the city’s black-owned business and entertainment establishments, and provided an atmosphere in which minority-owned businesses could thrive. Attracted to the vitality of the neighborhood, entrepreneur George Mathews (1887-1982) established a barbershop here in 1920 and in 1925 opened the adjoining Mathews Hotel. The hotel quickly became the anchor of the Howard Street district. Mathews’ success allowed him to endow a scholarship fund at the University of Akron in 1964.
Side B: The 1930-1950 era saw the heyday of Howard Street as a vibrant cultural center. The Mathews Hotel was a regular stop for black entertainers such as Cab Calloway, Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Count Basie when they performed in Akron. Local music clubs included the Green Turtle, the Cosmopolitan, the High Hat, and Benny Rivers. The Howard Street district declined in the 1960s and much of it was razed for “urban renewal” in the 1970s and 1980s.
Sponsors: Ohio Bicentennial Commission, The Longaberger Company, Artists of Rubber City, The Summit County Historical Society, and The Ohio Historical Society