The history of the Jackson House Hotel

Originally built in 1859, the Jackson House Hotel was one of the few hotels in the Harrisburg area that was not “whites-only.”

When Black entertainers finished up their shows in the city, they would frequently stay the night at the Jackson House. It was much-loved and considered one of the best hotels along the route of the Northern Central Railroad.

The Jackson House Hotel in Harrisburg, PA, which has been slowly crumbling amidst preservation efforts, was demolished in January. As reported by PennLive, there were multiple incidents in which falling bricks presented a safety risk for residents, so demolitions began.

Amongst the wreckage was a mural painted in 2017 that featured several prominent Black guests at the Jackson House, including Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald, along with German Jackson, the hotel’s founder.

Jackson, the child of freed slaves, acquired the hotel in the 1920s and became one of the most successful Black entrepreneurs in the state. He gave the city of Harrisburg a place free from segregation and discrimination, bursting with culture and joy.

After Jackson’s death in 1998, the hotel passed through the hands of many owners. The preservation efforts for the historic landmark never came to fruition, leaving the building in shambles. It is unclear what will happen to the building now, but one thing is certain: Pennsylvania has lost a meaningful historic landmark.