Feb 23, 2023 - News

Northwest Arkansas' Green Book locations that are still standing

A Howard University student holds a copy of the Green Book in Washington, D.C. Photo: Michael A. McCoy/for The Washington Post via Getty Images

During Black History Month, we're looking at the local venues listed in the Green Book travel guides.

  • The books, printed between 1936 and 1966, listed businesses that Black travelers could safely visit during the Jim Crow era.

Why it matters: The sites — and, in some cases, the vacant lots where they used to stand — are a reminder of how recently segregation was legal and what history we decide to preserve.

State of play: Only three locations in NWA — all in Fayetteville — are consistently listed in copies of the Green Book saved online by the New York Public Library. All are just a few blocks east of the old Washington County courthouse.

  • Two were homes where Black travelers could rent rooms — the N. Smith home at 259 E. Center St. and the Mrs. S. Manuel at 313 N. Olive Ave.
  • Both locations are now empty lots.
This home at 9 N. Willow Ave. in Fayetteville once was a hotel. Photo: Worth Sparkman/Axios

The third site was a hotel called "Mebbs" at 9 N. Willow Ave., but a researched entry at FayettevilleHistory.com speculates the location was actually owned by Emma Webb.

  • Kirk Deffenbaugh, who's lived across the street from the building since 1952 confirmed to Axios that a couple with the last name Webb owned the hotel.
  • He remembers that Black truck drivers stayed there as they traveled up and down U.S. 71.

An Axios analysis of the Green Book reveals that Arkansas locations first appeared in 1940.

  • Cities noted in that year were Arkadelphia, El Dorado, Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Helena, Hot Springs, Little Rock, Pine Bluff, Russellville and Texarkana. A total of 52 locations — from hotels to barbershops — were listed.
  • In 1966, there were 19 Arkansas cities with nearly 60 locations where Black travelers could seek respite, food or services.

The bottom line: By the last edition of the book, dated 1966-67, only the N. Smith home on Center St. was still listed in NWA.

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