About the Richmond Hotel

Built in 1909 by George and Alice Kilpatrick, the Richmond Hotel was once one of the finest hotels in Jacksonville for African-Americans during the Jim Crow era. Featuring 48 upper floor rooms and a 65 seat restaurant, its famed guests included Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday. Many musicians would stand on the hotel’s balcony to woo the crowds that came to see their performances, including the Cotton Club’s Cab Calloway, who sang “Hi-De-Ho” to the ladies of Jacksonville.

Situated as a key destination on the Broad Street strip, the Richmond’s street level spaces were occupied by several businesses and interesting historical figures. In 1910, Daniel Danson owned and operated a saloon at 428 Broad Street. By 1915, T.E. Williams had taken over the saloon. However, for most of the building’s history, this space was occupied by a number of drug stores. During the 1950s, it also served as the Black bus station for the Jacksonville Coach Company.

In 1921, James “Charlie Edd” Craddock established the Little Blue Chip club at 426 Broad. Said to be a controversial character and recognized as a local bolita kingpin during LaVilla’s heyday, Craddock opened a bread line for the hungry during the Depression, giving him a reputation as a philanthropist on the Black side of town. Growing out of this storefront, Craddock expanded his real estate empire to include several rental properties, the Charlie Edd Hotel, Young Men’s Smoke Chop, Uncle Charlie Edd’s Barber Shop, loan offices and pawn shops, with a total workforce of 500. He was also the co-owner of Manuel’s Tap Room on Ashley Street, a popular venue that was open 24 hours a day. However, his most well known business was the Two Spot nightclub at Moncrief Road and 45th Street. In 1942, the Two Spot was said to be the finest dance place in the country owned by an African American.

2. The Richmond Hotel in 1942. (Courtesy of the Crisis Magazine)

Craddock’s clubs, bars and taverns were said to be protected by the local police and were hotbeds for bolita. Bolita (Spanish for Little Ball), was a type of illegal lottery gambling popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in Cuba and among Florida’s working class Hispanic, Italian, and black populations. Littered with Cuban cigar companies, a crude form of bolita had arrived in LaVilla by 1911. Estimated at a total of $500 million gambled on the game annually, it may have been the city’s most profitable illegal business by the 1930s. Craddock was so successful that in 1942, he paid the federal government $35,000 in back taxes.

Next door at 424 Broad, C.H. Hagan operated a billiard hall in 1910. For years, a barber named William Schenk operated a pool hall out of the same storefront and by 1960, its name was Bonner’s Pool Room.

In the second half of the 20th century and up until recent years, Deloach Furniture operated out of the building’s ground level. The Richmond closed for good in the early 1970s, following desegregation. However, the building’s former hotel rooms have largely sat empty and untouched over the past five decades. A former Negro Motorist Green Book site, the building was acquired by Richmond River, LLC. in 1922.











Interior photographs by Dr. Timothy Gilmore at https://jaxpsychogeo.com/the-center-of-the-city/lavilla-richmond-hotel/