Ma Gruber Tourist Home

The Ma Gruber Tourist Home at 82 William St. on the 1921 Sanborn Map.

The Ma Gruber Tourist Home at 82 William St. on the 1921 Sanborn Map.

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Known Name(s)

Ma Gruber Tourist Home


82 William St. Newport, RI

Establishment Type(s)

Tourist Home

Physical Status


Detailed History

The Ma Gruber Tourist Home has a curious history. It was not actually “Ma Gruber’s” home, the name implying a down home experience. Rather, it was a misrepresentation—a mishearing, more likely—of Reese M. Magruder’s name. One doubts that Magruder, an African-American man born in 1878 in Georgia, was ever mistaken for a woman.

Magruder owned the property at 82 William St. The 1940 Federal Census reported him as a widower with no employment. Also living there at the time were Mable E. Statesman, an African-American widow and native Rhode Islander born in 1902, her son, street construction worker William Texiera, and daughter, houseworker Avis Texiera, both born in Rhode Island, and street construction worker Caesar Owens, an African-American man born in 1888 in Georgia. One imagines that Texiera and Owens knew each other from work.

Ma Gruber’s was listed in the 1954 volume of The Green Book only. This fact is especially curious because Magruder no longer lived there as of 1952. Instead, the house was occupied by Mrs. Katherine Kay (first floor) and Mrs. Winnie Gaines (second floor). One wonders if Magruder had offered his house to tourists in the past, leading The Green Book to list him just through word of mouth or whether later owners capitalized on Magruder’s name after he was gone. The building has since been demolished.

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