By: Melissa Dunbar-Gates, Today’s THV
THV’s Melissa Dunbar-Gates took a tour and spoke with building owner Kerry McCoy.
A non-profit group has been established to revive the facility; but they have a long way to go.
The room has incredible history. Can’t you just see a packed house, a full dance floor, and hear the trumpets of Luis Armstrong blaring. This room has been all kinds of things.
Originally built in the late 1800’s, it served as an African American USO club in both world wars; according to building owner McCoy a black fraternity used it to house women and children here in the great depression.
McCoy says, “I’ve had offers to turn it into a restaurant, turn it into apartments, to make a school out of it, but I’ve refused them all because I think it needs to stay exactly like it is be an event center for the community to use.”
According to McCoy the whole 9th Street corridor, where her building sits, used to be known as Little Rock’s “Little Harlem.” she said the street was lined with African America owned businesses on one side, and homes on the other side; and it is inside that old ballroom that African America entertainers came to play.
McCoy says, “A lot of the entertainers would perform at Robinson hall for the white people then stay in the hotel right next door and come up here to the ballroom and jam all night long.”
McCoy says, “I don’t want to do one single thing to it except make it safe and get an elevator up here. I want it to look exactly how it does.”
McCoy’s non-profit group needs more than a million dollars for the renovation. For a price you can have your name put on one of the box seats above the stage, or can have your name put on the stage, or the balcony in the back; and be a part of bringing the music and dancing back to the dreamland ballroom.
You can help make the Dreamland Ballroom renovation a reality by logging onto its website. There you can buy a brick for the new front sidewalk. Your name will be engraved in your brick.
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