What is the MLK Interpretive Center?
How Will the Funds Raised by PACG Help
the MLK Interpretive Center?
Also notice the beautiful mural depicting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as other figures and elements tied to the history of our community.
The History of the MLK Interpretive Center
This site was chosen due to its significant history, including:
- The property was the location of mixed race restaurant, entertainment, and rooming houses from at least the 1880's to the 1940's.
- The first African American owned business was located on the property. Linsey Pitts was a former slave from Missouri and a veteran from the Civil War. Before his business he worked as a laborer and a barber. Eventually, Linsey opened the very first African American saloon at 120 E 5th St.
- The area along 5th Street was derogatorily called "Africa Row," "Darktown Row," or "Ethiopia" by local newspapers.
- The area was frequented by famished African American train passengers getting off the train at the nearby Chicago, Pacific, and Rock Island depot.
- The property is possibly the location of the Blue Bird Tavern, a legendary hot jazz and dance spot in the "Black" part of town. Legend has it that young talents such as Bix Beiderbecke also performed here after hours.