THOMASVILLE, Ga. (WALB) - The famous and historic former Imperial Hotel in Thomasville may not look like much today since it’s an empty building with holes in the floors and some walls that are barely still standing.
But this roughly 70-year-old structure has an interesting past.
“I’m so blessed and I’m so happy for what I’m doing,” said James Hadley, or known by many as Jack, who is the founder of the Jack Hadley Black History Museum which now owns the former Imperial Hotel.
It was a safe haven for African Americans during and before the Civil Rights era and was listed in “The Green Book.”
Hadley believes this building and the history locked inside it, is worth saving.
“It’s important because African Americans not only in Thomasville, around the South, have lost so much history,” said Hadley.
Hadley is determined to save the building and transform it into an Airbnb with a museum that has revolving exhibits inside. He’s hoping for a 2024 opening.
“If this generation we got now, living, don’t preserve it, it’s gonna be lost,” said Hadley.
You can help Hadley in his mission to restore the Imperial Hotel during a third annual gala, the Masquerade Fundraiser to Save the Historic Imperial Hotel, which in the past has raised thousands of dollars that goes back into the building for restorations.
Hadley said Saturday’s event has raised $14,000 already with over 100 people planning to attend virtually.
He said this gala has a big impact on saving the Imperial Hotel and he said it’s very important.
This year’s MC is NBC’s Tracie Potts, who’s actually related to Hadley.
The building hasn’t been much since serving its last hotel guest in 1969, said Hadley, but he’s hoping to change that with a mask, a dream and Thomasville supporting the dream.
“I have that much faith,” said Hadley.
If you’d like to know more about the event and find out how to attend, you can click here.