Magnolia House had some of the biggest names in the African-American community as visitors

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Sam Pass is the proud owner of a 5,000-square-foot piece of history.

Over the years, the home on Gorrell Street was the residents of a number of prominent families but the house is best known for those who visited.

“Ray Charles, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner would stay here,” said Pass as he pointed to a wall of pictures filled with some of the biggest names in the African-American community. “This was during segregation.”

In the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was known as the Magnolia House Motel.

“I remember when I was a little boy and the big nice sign always said ‘no vacancy,’ this place stayed full.”

The motel was listed in the Green Book Travel's guide as a safe and upscale place for people of color to stay. By the 1990s, the old sign and house had fallen into disrepair and was in danger of being torn down.

“I was determined that it was going to be restored,” said Pass who did just that.

Since the 90s, he’s worked on restoring the home and hopes to open it as a bed and breakfast in the future.

“We are just proud that we could save this house for generations to come,” he said. “Because you know a kid doesn't know where he's going until he knows where he's been.”

The Magnolia House is open for brunch on Sunday mornings. To learn more visit them at

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