Late 1950s. 8.5” x 11” illustrated letterhead with “Birmingham Ala” written on front. VG (wrinkling and staining, with pinholes to upper corners). Features illustration of motel with images of Gaston and the lobby, bedroom, master suite, and coffee shop on left side. The letterhead notes the motel’s air-conditioned rooms and central gas heating, delicious meals, spacious parking, telephone in each room, down town location, and beautiful patio and lobby.
The A.G. Gaston Motel opened in 1954 with the aim of providing first-class lodging and dining to African American travelers. It became “a significant site of civil rights activities in 1963 that served as the headquarters of the campaign to desegregate public accommodations in Birmingham.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and leaders of the SCLC took up residence at the Gaston Motel from April to May 1963, and on May 11, a bomb was detonated at the Motel near room 30 where Dr. King and Ralph Abernathy had been holding meetings—fortunately, they had departed prior to the attack. A few months later, on September 15, the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church tragically killed four young girls. The events in Birmingham in 1963 helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Scarce letterhead of an African American motel that hosted significant activities related to Civil Rights in Birmingham. Item #932