Myrtle Beach’s historic Charlie’s Place opens for tours amid renovations

Myrtle Beach’s historic Charlie’s Place opens for tours amid renovations

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach’s historic Charlie’s Place is now open for tours to the general public on Tuesdays.

The famed birthplace of ‘the Shag’ and motel once home to musical legends like Billie Holiday and Little Richard is rich with African-American history. It was fitting for tours to begin Tuesday, Feb. 2, the beginning of Black History Month.

“There’s a lot of hidden gems that people don’t know about. People who visit Myrtle Beach and even some of the residents who don’t know the significance of this site, which has a very essential role to the civil rights movement and also the Jim Crow era,” Myrtle Beach neighborhood services coordinator Freda Funnye said.

She is hosting the tours on Tuesdays and hopes to expand them after the most recent construction is finished. Funnye said tours are anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. with up to three people. COVID-19 policy includes mask-wearing and social distancing.

“The site plays a major role in entrepreneurship. The music, the rhythm and blues that has also influenced a lot of the culture of African Americans. It also plays a major role in how race is perceived through music, and how we’re able to come together through music,” Funnye said of the importance of Charlie’s Place to Myrtle Beach.

Funnye said by the second quarter of 2021 there should be four businesses using the incubator spaces of Charlie’s Place. Right now, she said an advisory panel is reviewing applications, and will send finalists to the city council for approval.

The Fitzgerald House has completed phase one renovations, Funnye said, and organizations like the Grand Strand Humane Society have been using it as a meeting space. Motel units are also renovated.

Looking to the future, Funnye said the music will come back again to Charlie’s Place.

“Right now we’re looking to create programs and activities, especially for our young people in the community. The city received a grant to offer music lessons. So once we, you know, have the ‘go’ to be able to do that the city would love to be able to offer music lessons for the young people here,” Funnye said.

If you’re interested in a tour, you can contact Funnye by emailing afunnye@cityofmyrtlebeach.com.

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