Mrs. L. Jackson Tourist Home


35 Bath Rd. Newport, RI

Physical Status


Detailed History

The Mrs. L. Jackson Tourist Home, at 35 Bath Rd., was listed in The Green Book from 1939 to 1956; it is the second longest listing in Newport. The occupants of the house during this period, however, were Sophie Burney (Burnett on the 1940 Federal Census), Amanda Torrence and Adele Henderson, all African-American widows. Burney was born in Virginia in 1883. Torrence was born in Virginia in 1863, likely to a slave mother. Henderson was born in Maryland in 1889. How they met each other is unknown. By 1940, Torrence had retired and Burney and Henderson were working in private homes elsewhere in Newport. In 1939, they began listing in The Green Book, something that seems to have worked out for them, as they continued listing until 1956. They rented the property from Carolyn Ann Marshall, who owned it as part of a trust given to by her father, Henry. On December 11, 1945, Marshall sold the property to Burney. One month later, Burney sold it to the Hope Circle King’s Daughters and Sons, Inc. Information on the Hope Circle King’s Daughters and Sons, Inc., is scant, but they may have been connected with the International Order of the King’s Daughters and Sons (KDS), a nondenominational Christian service organization headquartered in Chautauqua, NY. They held the property until 1876, exactly 20 years after the last Green Book listing. Interestingly, there is no record of an L. Jackson connected with the site. No L. Jackson owned the property and no other Jackson lived on Bath Road. Burney, however, listed herself in the Newport Directories every year that the site was listed in The Green Book. Thus, it seems logical to credit her with the idea to list in the first place. Being home most, Torrence may have looked after the residence, provided her health allowed her to do so. There is no reason that they couldn’t have run a tourist home business under the name of Jackson. On the other hand, the Mrs. L. Jackson Tourist Home raises the question of how The Green Book solicited and maintained its listings. In 1947, Bath Rd. underwent what is best described as urban renewal, after which its name was changed to Memorial Blvd. Yet, the Green Book listings never reflected this change. One thinks it would be confusing for out-of-town visitors to have an incorrect street address. Were these listings simply repeated year to year? Or, did the owners have to send an update, in which case, why didn’t Burney provide new information? Unfortunately, we may never know. The Mrs. L. Jackson Tourist Home also yields insight into why other sites, like Mrs. R. Craddle Tourist Home (165 Spring St.) and Mrs. C.F. Burton Tourist Home (7 DeBlois St.) are so difficult to trace. Perhaps they were operated under other names by people who opted not to list themselves in the directories. These sites remind us of that African-Americans still faced considerable racial violence. Preserving their privacy yet making oneself known within the African-American community was one importance defensive measure.

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