MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - It was farewell to a building in an area of Myrtle Beach that holds a rich history. The demolition and groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday for Charlie's Place that is located on Carver Street.
The city purchased the property last year; it is the former home and motel of Charlie and Sarah Fitzgerald, also known as Charlie's Place. The project is part of a revitalization project that will restore the Booker T. Washington community.
City officials, community leaders, and residents of the community were part of the ceremony.
Jack Thompson, a longtime resident, and local photographer, remembers being a part of Charlie's Place. The popular club was the only spot where black entertainers could perform in Myrtle Beach.
"The story goes that a lot of the famous entertainers throughout the country found their way to Charlie's Place, as well as Club Bamboo, and performed and the community embraced it," said Thompson.
Thompson was able to capture images of the happenings at Charlie's Place, that was known for breaking down racial barriers back in 1930s. The club would continue to thrive until the late 60s.
Residents educated city council about the history of Charlie's Place which led to city purchasing the property with plans to make it a historic icon. Several city leaders said they thought it was just an old abandoned home and hotel on Carver Street.
The plan is to tear it down and rebuild. Over the next four years the city will set aside $710,000 for the Charlie's Place revitalization project.
City Manager John Pedersen says the concept and design of what the area will be used for has not been finalized. However, it will recognize the music heritage that once thrived in the Booker T. Washington community.
Some of the ideas for the future site include a museum and a neighborhood grocery store with a coffee shop. Pedersen said the city will meet with the community to modify the plans for the future site.
Some of the money will also be used to make improvements to Carver Street. Pedersen said a streetscape project is in the works that could include entrance signs, a pedestrian crossing and sidewalk treatments.
There is also a partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of the Grand Strand.
Leroy Brunson grew up on Carver Street, and he says he remembers the happenings of Charlie's Place. "What they are trying to here now means a great deal because it can help the community, we'll see," said Brunson.
Brunson and childhood friend, Dino Thompson, say skin color was not a concern when you entered into Charlie's Place.
"Everybody came here before integration because that's where you came to hear the great music," explained Thompson. "The black artists couldn't play in the clubs, and some of us white fellas wanted to hear the best music in the world."
Both hope this project will share the memories of a place that broke down racial barriers, and created racial harmony with music and good time.
The actual demolition of the property will start Tuesday morning.