Lorraine Motel Sign / National Civil Rights Museum
As America honors Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday in January, I'd like to share these photos of the National Civil Rights Museum that promotes the vision that Dr. King embraced.
Walter Bailey purchased the Windsor Hotel in 1945 and renamed it the Lorraine Motel. Located close the the center of Memphis, during the days of segregation the motel catered to an upscale black clientele.
In April 1968, King traveled to Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers. King stayed in room 306, located on the second floor of the Lorraine Motel. At 6:01 PM on April 4, 1968 while he was standing on the balcony outside his room, King was struck by a single bullet, causing him to fall backwards unconscious.
Following the assassination, Bailey left Room 306 undisturbed. While the Motel remained open for a few more years, Bailey worked to preserve the motel as a historic site raising funds to Save the Lorraine. The Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation bought the motel in 1982. The Motel officially closed in 1998 as the property transformed into a museum.
For architectural designs, the museum called upon McKissack & McKissack from Nashville, the first African American architecture firm in America. After purchasing adjoining property, the museum opened in Sept. 1991.
Today, on the grounds of the museum, a wreath is placed at the balcony where King was hit. The original sign for the museum has been preserved outside. From this iconic photo from the balcony there are two cars visible below, and there are replicas of these two cars at the museum today. For now, customers of the museum are allowed to look into the window of Room 306.