Ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrates restoration of historic A.G. Gaston Motel

Ribbon-cutting ceremony for A.G Gaston Motel restoration
Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 12:29 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2022 at 1:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The City of Birmingham hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the restoration of the historic A.G. Gaston Motel Thursday morning.

The event revealed the restored exterior of the motel and courtyard, the 1968 wing with the restored coffee shop, dining room and a special exhibition. The second phase of the A.G. Gaston Motel restoration project is now substantially complete.

Birmingham Mayor Randall L. Woodfin was joined by Congresswoman Terri Sewell as well as several other local, state and federal dignitaries.

“This is a proud day for Birmingham,” said Mayor Woodfin. “The Gaston Motel has a special place in history and in the hearts of our residents as well as people across the country. Now, new memories and a new history can be written.”

The A.G. Gaston Motel is the key historic site of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, a collaborative partnership of the National Park Service, the City of Birmingham, and the Historical Preservation Authority. It is the centerpiece of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which was established in 2017 by President Barack Obama.

The City of Birmingham committed $10 million to restore the motel. In addition, the Mellon Foundation awarded a $1.1 million grant to the City for the restoration of the coffee shop, dining room, and exhibit. Restoration of the coffee shop will provide an operational facility to serve food and beverages for residents and tourists, and the original dining room will serve as the location of the permanent exhibit on the life and legacy of Dr. A. G. Gaston. The Gaston Motel’s multi-phase restoration began in 2019 on the 1954 wing of the hotel. The A. G. Gaston Construction Company, a legacy company of Dr. Gaston, was contracted to undertake the restoration.

“We celebrate the three-year restoration of the A.G. Gaston Motel as a crowning achievement of the preservation of Birmingham’s civil rights history,” said Denise E. Gilmore, senior director of the city’s Division of Social Justice and Racial Equity. “Mayor Woodfin’s steadfast commitment to ensure that the legacy of the Gaston Motel and Dr. Gaston would once again be a gathering place for the community demonstrates exceptional leadership. The restoration is a collaborative effort by city, federal, non-profit, professional service providers and community stakeholders and we are grateful for a successful outcome.”

In addition, celebrities such as Aretha Franklin, Duke Ellington, James Baldwin, and Harry Belafonte stayed at the motel. The facility eventually closed in 1986.

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