One of our own, Charlie’s Place, is a finalist in the Knight Cities Challenge, a $15 million, 3-year grant program.
Charlie Fitzgerald was an enigma in a divided, early 20th century Myrtle Beach. Well-respected by whites and black alike, Charlie Fitzgerald owned and operated the Carver Street supper club where guests were united by one trait: a love of dance, rhythm and blues.
Charlie’s nightclub was one of few places in the country where whites and blacks could mingle as equals. The club hosted music legends like Billie Holliday, Marvin Gaye and B.B. King, as well as tourists from afar, in its heyday in the 1930s through 1960s.
The end of the supper club began in 1950 when members of the Ku Klux Klan raided Charlie’s club and left him for dead. Charlie recovered and reopened the club, but it was later shut down in the 1960s. Today, all that is left of this great establishment is the rundown Fitzgerald’s Motel.
Today, in this predominantly black neighborhood, the City of Myrtle Beach’s Neighborhood Services department sees potential to bring back the club as Charlie’s Place, a hub for local produce and groceries and potentially small business development. It would provide an outlet for youth and the elder residents of the neighborhood, prompting a cultural awakening to pay homage to Charlie Fitzgerald.
Charlie’s Place has been selected as one of 158 finalists out of more than 4,500 applicants from the 26 cities belonging to the Knight Foundation community. Applicants to the Knight Cities Challenge have three goals for their projects:
- Projects that would help cities attract and keep the best and brightest talent
- Opportunities to expand economic prospects while breaking down divides
- Engaging residents in civic involvement
We wish Charlie’s Place the best of luck! Winners of the Knight Cities Challenge will be announced this spring. Stay in touch at facebook.com/charliesplaceoncarverstreet.