CLARKSDALE, Miss.– Two sisters working to preserve Blues history at The Riverside Hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi are gaining national support.

“The National Trust for Historic Preservation designated The Riverside Hotel one of America’s eleven most endangered historic places,” said Brenda Williams, who handles public relations for the hotel. “Because of it’s valuable place…not only in Blues history…but also in civil rights history.”

That unique “designation” galvanized supporters for the historic hotel in Clarksdale and for its owners as they work to save, restore and preserve the property on Sunflower Avenue.

Before it became a boarding house and then a hotel, this building was the G.T. Thomas Afro-American Hospital back in the 1940’s.

Beyond those walls are stories of how The Riverside Hotel became a safe haven for African American travelers and musicians and gave birth to the sound of the Blues.

“Ike Turner and Jackie Burnston rehearsed and practiced “Rocket 88″ in the basement before they went up to Memphis to Sun Studios to cut the very first rock and roll record,” Williams said.

It has been family owned for more than 70 years and remained open until the COVID Pandemic forced it to close in the Spring of 2020.

Owners Zelena Ratliff and Sonya Gates faced mounting financial problems after the hotel closed, making it financially impossible for the sisters to keep the doors open.

There are three small shacks on the property all in need of some T.L.C and that’s why a Go Fund Me account has been set up with a goal of raising $50,000.

The money will be used to establish an Emergency Operating Fund that will help keep the lights on, pay insurance and repair some recent storm damage to prepare the hotel to reopen for business.

The goal is to reopen the hotel by Spring of 2022 in time for festival season.

If you’d like to help contribute to The Riverside Hotel’s GoFundMe, click here.