Just before the landmark was unveiled on Wednesday to recognize Landina Guest House, Melinda Lowrance ended her speech by putting her hands on her heart.
Her voice cracked as tears streamed down her cheeks.
“It warms our hearts. I know Hollis and Ozzie despise us,” she said. “And they’re very proud. They’ve worked very, very hard to establish this business. It was the only company listed in the Green Book. I just want to thank everyone for coming to this event.”
And with that, she and her husband, Jim Lowrance, along with Hendersonville City Manager John Connet, removed the plastic to reveal the marker as everyone cheered. Melinda Lowrance smiled and still had tears streaming down her cheeks as she stared at the marker.
Before the unveiling, she told everyone the story of the house, which was owned and operated by Hollis and Ozzie Landrum. In 1988, Melinda and her husband purchased the house, along with the primary residence at 710 First Avenue West. Ozzie Landrum died in 1980 and Hollis Landrum died in 1990.
“It was important to us to preserve that. I’m so grateful that Mr. Hollis, as I called him, who was like a parent to us, and his wife, Ozzie, who was a parent on my side of the family, allowed my husband and I to be guardians of it,” said Melinda Lowrance.
According to a past Times-News article, Landina Guest House was listed in the 1960 edition of the “Green-Book” and made the following statement: “Rooms with Private Bathroom – Meals Satisfactory”. The “Green Book” was published by Victor Hugo Green and was first called “The Negro Motorist Green-Book” in 1937. It listed establishments that catered to blacks – businesses and services including hotels, taverns , discotheques, restaurants, services and car repair. train stations, tourist houses, truck stops, barber and beauty salons, golf courses and state parks.
According to the article, the Landrums hosted a club in their basement and held weddings, banquets and receptions, including wakes. They operated the business for 30 years.
“When we were kids, we all knew the Landina,” Melinda Lowrance said. “We would come in for a hot meal, and on the weekend, Friday night or Saturday night, it was ‘Teen Night’, and there was a jukebox in the basement. We would do the ‘Twist’ in the basement. ground, the “Mashed Potatoes”… all that. Then during the week, a barber’s chair was placed there, and you could come and have your hair cut.”
The unveiling of the Landina Guest House historic landmark, held June 15 in Hendersonville. The house was the only one listed in the famous Green Book.
Dean Hensley, Hendersonville Times-News
During the restoration, Lowrance said it found several interesting things, including a very special photo.
“Under renovation, just two years ago, we found behind a wall a black and white photo of Hank Aaron, which tells me he probably stayed here. We found the old postcard that they sent and the one that was published in the green book,” she said. “We still have the original dishwasher. We took it down and we’ll keep it as a souvenir.”
Also at the event were Johnny Landrum (Hollis and Ozzie Landrum’s nephew) and Bertha Collins (the Landrums’ great-niece). Johnny Landrum recalls an afternoon when he was a little boy and his Aunt Ozzie made it his favorite – the Sweet Potato Cobbler.
“That’s where I grew up. My aunt would do everything I asked her to. So that day she made me a sweet potato cobbler. I got it, and I’m walking in the yard with my dog. I got distracted, and my dog jumped into my arms and slid my sweet potato pie,” he said. “So I’m outside crying like a baby…my mom comes running out of the house asking what’s wrong. And I was like, ‘My dog is eating my pie.’
“If you know anything about sweet potato cobbler, it takes a while to make. So I go back, and my aunt makes another sweet potato pie from scratch. It just tells you the kind of people they were.”
Collins said she and her family would go to nearby church just so they could drop by Landina to eat.
“My aunt aunt made the best buns anyone could ever dream of. I had never tasted another bun like hers. She also made sweet tea with fresh mint in it,” she said. declared.
Melinda Lowrance said, “We still have fresh mint growing there.”
Lowrance said more plaques should be erected in the future, and she said this would also be made possible through the hard work and dedication of the Diversity Inclusion and Historical Preservation Committee groups.
Hendersonville City Council member Debbie Roundtree became emotional as she spoke.
“Being a fourth generation from Hendersonville, I’m proud to call Hendersonville my home. To be a part of this historic moment…” she said, as she choked, “…it means a lot for me.”
“It’s a pleasure to have this event. We’re proud to be here,” said Hendersonville City Manager John Connet. “This is the first of what we believe are several historic properties associated with the African American community here in Hendersonville.”
Mayor Barbara Volk said the city was happy to be part of a “distinguished occasion.”
“We are thrilled to be able to recognize the importance of Landina House and Melinda for all the work she has done to preserve this history and all that she has done for the community,” said Mayor Barbara Volk.
Robbie Lowrance, a former women’s basketball coach at West Henderson High, is Melinda and Jim’s son. He said he was surprised when he learned that there would be a historical marker in front of his old house.
“I’m so glad this is happening, not just for our family, but for the community,” he said. “I remember when we first moved here, everything was the same. The basement of the guest house was like it was then. A lot has changed now, obviously. But it was pretty neat .We didn’t know the history of the house until we got older.”