Danville's African American Business District

Historical Marker #1958 in Danville commemorates an African American business district that stood near present-day Constitution Square for more than 100 years.

After the Civil War, African American Kentuckians gravitated to rural hamlets, towns, and cities across the state for better economic opportunities, group protection, and a sense of solidarity. Due to segregation, however, many of the towns and cities developed separate neighborhoods that provided housing, goods, and services to African Americans.

Black businesses in these neighborhoods, including insurance agencies, funeral homes, restaurants, hotels, barber and beauty shops, clothing stores, and doctor and dentist offices, served their communities and established strong personal relationships with their patrons. These neighborhoods also included community organizations, churches, schools, civic and fraternal groups, theaters, dance halls, and sports teams that enriched residents' lives.

During segregation, one African American business district in Danville was located on 2nd Street and faced the Ephraim McDowell House. There, businesses and organizations like the Elite (taxi) Cab Company, DeLuxe Barbershop, The Hollywood Restaurant, Singleton's Super Market, Richardson Brothers billiards, and Doric Lodge No. 18, provided the black community with opportunities to own, serve, and support their local population.

When racial segregation ended, many of these black businesses that were unable to compete with other businesses closed. In the 1970s, with funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Danville engaged in an urban renewal project that razed all of Danville's historic African American Business District on 2nd Street at Constitution Square. Although urban renewal removed the physical traces of this neighborhood, it did not wipe away the fond memories that Danville had of its African American Business District.