The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, located in Memphis, Tennessee, is a privately owned complex of museums and historic buildings built around the former Lorraine Motel at 450 Mulberry Street where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
Major components of the complex on 4.14 acres include a museum and the Lorraine Motel and hotel buildings. The complex also includes the Young and Morrow Building , which was the site where James Earl Ray initially confessed (and later recanted) to shooting King. The complex additionally includes the Canipe’s Amusement Store. The store is next door to the rooming house where the alleged murder weapon, with Ray’s fingerprints, was found.
The Museum traces the history of the Civil Rights Movement from the 17th century to the present.
The Lorraine Hotel (originally named the Windsor Hotel)) was built in 1925. During segregation it was an upscale accommodation that catered to a black clientele, one of only a few hotels to which African American travelers could enjoy overnight accommodations while traveling during this segregated period leading up to the late 1960s in America. Its guests included songwriters and musicians that worked nearby at to Stax Records, including Ray Charles, Lionel Hampton, Aretha Franklin, Ethel Waters, Otis Redding, The Staple Singers and Wilson Pickett.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed at the Lorraine Motel numerous times. He was a guest of the Lorraine when he came to Memphis in 1968 in support of striking sanitation workers. Following the assassination King, the hotel’s then current owner, Walter Bailey, left Room 306 (the room King was assassinated in front of) and the adjoining room 307 unoccupied as a memorial to King. After over $8 million in renovations during the late 1980s, the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel officially opened its doors to the public on Sept. 28, 1991.
PLEASE NOTE: The National Civil Rights Museum is undergoing extensive renovations beginning November 6, 2012 through 2013.
The Young and Morrow Boarding House across the street from the Lorraine Motel, WILL REMAIN OPEN FOR TOURS DURING RENOVATION. More than 200,000 visitors who tour the museum each year will still have the opportunity to view selected exhibitions.
During remodeling, the museum will allow special public access— for the first time since it opened in 1991—to the balcony outside Room 306. This was where Dr. King was standing on April 4, 1968 when a bullet fired from a rooming house across the courtyard struck him down.
Rates during renovation have been reduced to $10 for adults and $8 for children (age 4-17).
For more information about visiting the National Civil Rights Museum during their renovation, please visit their website at www.civilrightsmuseum.org
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