The Bertha Hotel


54 Meeting St. Providence, RI

Physical Status


Detailed History

The Hill Top Inn, the Mrs. M.A. Green Tourist Home, and the Bertha Hotel formed a small community of Green Book sites. The Hill Top Inn was, indeed, located at the top of a very steep street, so steep, in fact, that the street had to be interrupted by a set of stairs, because the pitch was too angled to drive. Listed only between 1938 and 1940, the Hill Top Inn was run by Milton H. Phillips, a clerk. At the bottom of the street lay The Bertha Hotel, which must have been a veritable whirlwind of activity. Like the Hill Top Inn, the Bertha Hotel was listed early, in 1938 through 1941. The property was owned by the Old Colony Co-Op Bank, which was one of the oldest banks in Providence. Renters included Frank Gunthrop, his wife, Agnes, and daughter Louise, all African-Americans from South Carolina, and Genevieve and Hiawatha Frances, who lodged with the Gunthrops. Hiawatha was a Native American. The second floor household consisted of widow Annie Harris and her daughter, Leola DuPoint, and their lodgers Anna Reese and Zelma Smith, both from Alabama. All were African-Americans—and all were very busy. It is entirely unclear who actually ran the business. Frank and Hiawatha as janitors at an electric company, probably as coworkers. Agnes, Annie, Leola, Anna, and Zelma all worked in private homes as cooks and housekeepers. Only Genevieve Frances had no occupation. Also unclear is who Bertha was. There is no one by the name connected to the property. In the middle, at 58 Meeting St, was the Mrs. M.A. Green Tourist Home. The M.A. Green Tourist Home had the longest listing in The Green Book, running from 1939 to 1948. Mostly, it appeared throughout its run as 58 Meeting St., but occasionally, it was mistyped as 85 Meeting St. As there was no 85 Meeting St., one hopes that Green Book visitors were able to find their way. The M.A. Green House was run by Martha Greene, an African-American widow born in 1880 in Connecticut. She lived there with her daughter, Martha E. Greene, a single woman who worked as a maid, and a lodger, William P.H. Freeman. Freeman, also a Rhode Island-born African-American, sold real estate for a living. It is possible he was aided Martha with her Green Book listing. While the Bertha Hotel has been demolished, unfortunately for a parking lot, the Hill Top Inn and the M.A. Green Tourist Home survive, probably as result of preservation efforts along Benefit St. These two buildings stand as testimony of the African-American neighborhood that used to be on Meeting St.

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