Herbert Horatio "Hub" Dudley
Dudley Motel, Cafe, & Amoco Service Station #2
Business is Personal
As with each of Dudley's businesses, Dudley Motel was built to fill a void in the African American community. In 1958, Dudley Motel opened with much fanfare. Established to provide lodging, respite, and provisions to African Americans traveling US Highway 80, a primary thoroughfare across the Southeast, Dudley Motel, Cafe, and Amoco #2 service station were featured in the travel guides, “Go and Green Book,” “Negro Motorist Green Book,” & the Amoco Oil publication, “Go Guide to Pleasant Motoring.”
The 12 room motel offered televisions, private bathrooms, and as former Atlanta mayor Andrew Young remembered in an interview with Dubose Porter of The Courier Herald, "Whatever they needed, he (meaning Dudley) knew where to get it. And he'd tell you where to stop in the next town, or whichever way you were going."
Cafe "The Retreat"
From USO to feeding everyone
During a time when there were struggles at the lunch counter, Dudley operated The Cafe as a retreat. With short order cook, coke fountain, and ice cream, it was a treat and everyone was welcome.
During WWII, Hub offered it as a refuge for black servicemen as part of the USO.
The original "EAT" sign, with its remnants of neon, still hangs today.
Amoco Service Station #2
Open for all
In September 1936, African American businessman, Herbert Horatio “Hub” Dudley opened the black-friendly Amoco #2 service station. At a time when blacks limited nighttime travel, Amoco #2 was open 24 hours. Amoco #2 provided fuel, restrooms, dry goods, and safety. The dry goods store & meat market were moved to the Amoco Station as the funeral home and casket company grew.
Article, 19 July 1958
Much promotion accompanied the opening of Dudley's Motel, such as this article appearing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Written by Stein Craftsmen of Atlanta, this postcard description of the Dudley Motel & Cafe touts "Just opened! One of the finest and most modern Negro motels to be found anywhere in the nation. Cafe and service station adjoining. Owner operated by H. H. and Mayme Dudley. Recommended by Dublin Chamber of Commerce.
12 air conditioned units located only 3 blocks from the heart of Dublin. Each unit has its own private TV and telephone and is modern in every detail. Ceramic tile baths with showers, safe electric heat, modern oak furniture, acoustical ceilings and tasteful decorations assure you your stay at Dudley's will be pleasant. A special feature is a king-size unit complete with living room, two bedrooms and bath - ideal for family groups."
The Genesis of Dudley’s Amoco Station, Retreat “Cafe” and Motel
by Carl Pearson, grandson of Herbert "Hub" Dudley
Mr. Herbert Horatio Dudley was born on January 8, 1892, in Cordele, Georgia, to Clayton Dudley and Katie Dudley. The family of four which included his sister, Josephine, moved to Dublin, and become active in the community.
Katie Dudley was a teacher and early advocate for children’s education and public welfare. Because of her contributions, the first public housing project in Dublin for blacks, was named in her honor.
Clayton Dudley included his young son in establishing many activities which focused on addressing the need for commerce and jobs for blacks in the area. Herbert Dudley studied law and business which led him, at age 24, to be the first black appointed county official in Laurens County in 1916. As such, this event led to a public protest (Atlanta Constitution 8.10.1916 pg 11). One of the first businesses was C. D. Dudley and Son, Dry Goods, which became the anchor for the, then, unheard of “shopping center” of storefronts on East Jackson Street near the riverside. Over the next five decades in addition to dry goods, there would be a meat market, a barber shop, a restaurant, a bank, and in 1922, a funeral home, and a casket company. In other locations, there was a lumber yard, a grist mill, and a shoe shop.
Each of these businesses would be a response to a lack of provisions or a need for skills in the community, which provided many jobs and apprenticeships. In 1934, a cemetery was added due to lack of access to the “Cross Creek” cemetery in bad weather conditions.
A modern day “service station” was added in the 1940s to accommodate the increasing number of blacks travelling long distances by car. As it was located on US Highway 80, the major east/west route through Georgia, Dudley’s Amoco Service Station was a 24-hour operation complete with services for your automobile and a food counter with “short order” service. These were the days of lack of “public accommodations” as illustrated by the 2018 movie, Green Book. Dudley had also converted the original family residence on Truxton Street to be the “Guest House” with rooms available for the traveling public.
In the mid-1940s, the United States Naval Hospital brought military people to Dublin. To accommodate the black officers, Dudley contracted to operate the USO (United Service Organizations) location, hence called the “Retreat”. After the WWII efforts concluded, the restaurant continued as a public offering with food and entertainment featuring such well known acts as Rosetta Tharpe, Little Richard Penniman, James Brown, et al. In addition to a full menu, the Retreat offered a full Coca-Cola Fountain, Ice Cream bar, a doughnut machine, and a JukeBox. It also had a “private” dining room. This location on the main highway in the center of Georgia became a well-known stop on the way to everywhere on every trip for blacks as there were few other options for gas, food, or lodging.
The Georgia 4-H Club Camp for blacks was established in the early 1950s in Dublin’s southside and travel by car was greatly increasing. For recreation, Dudley built a skating rink on the site where the Dairy Queen on East Jackson Street in Dublin now stands.
There were several boarding houses but still no motels for blacks yet in Dublin. In 1957, Dudley began the construction of the 12-room motel. As a newly construction multi-unit motel for “discrimination Negros”, it was a first for this area. In December of 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, and the bus boycott followed. In 1958, Dudley’s Motel opened with much fanfare and promotion. Featured in the “Negro Motorist Green Book”, and the Amoco Oil publication, “Go Guide to Pleasant Motoring”, Dudley’s Motel, Retreat and Amoco Station were popular.
The civil rights efforts continued as Dudley, in January of 1959, was credited with achieving a high voter registration in Laurens achieving “3507 registered voters out of an eligible 7398”. (Pittsburgh Courier 01.17.1959) It was not until 1964 was the Civil Rights Act enacted; it “prohibited discrimination in places of public accommodation because of race, color religion or national origin”. The year 1968, when the Holiday Inn opened, marked a change when blacks became more comfortable with seeking accommodations at many of the motels or restaurants in the Dublin area. In addition, much traffic was diverted from the US 80 to interstate highway 16 as it was completed.
During the 1960s, we would see many students, entertainers, clergy, and activists at the Dudley Motel and Retreat Café. They would come for civic events, Negro League baseball games, religious conventions, and concerts. They would also come for less publicized events. It was here at the Dudley’s Motel and Retreat Café, that a small group of men including Martin Luther King, Jr., Andrew Young, Ralph Abernathy, Maynard Jackson and others, would come for offsite meetings to relax and plan for activities that would change the course of civil rights. The “private dining room” was the reserved place for meetings and reflection on the non-violent social change agenda. They came here with the expectation of no fanfare or publication; these were dangerous times. Ironically, in 1958, a lady from nearby Adrian, Georgia, Izola Ware Curry, stabbed and nearly killed Martin Luther King, Jr., in New York. Ten years later, a second attempt ended King’s life.
Herbert Dudley passed away in June of 1965. Today, the three buildings, Dudley’s Motel, Dudley’s Service Station, and the Dudley’s “Retreat” Café still stand representing a point in time which accommodated and supported a transition in our culture.
Genius has no color, no creed. The world loves a contributor to civilization. Herbert "Hub" Dudley
Carl & Katie Dudley
Father & Mother
Clayton, Katie, and their son, Herbert, founded C.D. Dudley & Son, Undertakers & Embalmers, in 1922. As the funeral home business grew to take more space in the original building, it displaced the meat market and barber shop. The barber shop was relocated to Lawrence Street, and expanded, as Thomasenor’s Beauty & Barber Shoppe in 1934, when Thomasenor Walker was born.
Mayme Ford Dudley
Wife & Confidante
Originally from Arlington, Virginia (in the DC Metro area), Mayme Ford Dudley was wife to Hub and mother to foster daughter & niece, Thomasenor. Thomaseanor Pearson once told the story that her “Duddy” convinced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from staging a massive demonstration in Dublin over unfair labor practices.
Jenny Ford Walker
Bond between Sisters
Laurens County Benevolent Association, which provided burial benefits for its members, was started by Dudley the 1930s. Virgil R. “Rich” Walker, wrote the charter for the association. Rich, and his wife, Jennie Ford Walker, sister of Mayme Ford Dudley and mother of Thomasenor, also operated a funeral home acquired in Eastman, Georgia.
Mayme Thomasenor Walker "Tommie" Pearson
June 06, 1934 - June 11, 2014
Thomaseanor Pearson once told the story that her “Duddy” convinced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from staging a massive demonstration in Dublin over unfair labor practices. King stayed at Dudley’s motel. She also remembered the night he stayed at the Dudley Motel. Pearson, who was initially scared because of the fear that King was being tracked, met the American icon in person and fondly recalled the night she stayed up “all night” talking to the civil rights champion alongside her husband, Alfred and daughter, Ojetta. Mrs. Pearson remembered another Civil rights advocate, Atlanta Mayor and U.N.
Ambassador, Andrew Young, stopping into their business.
Dr. Irene Dobbs Jackson, Maynard Jackson, & Andrew Young
Spelman College & beyond
The mother of Atlanta mayor, Maynard Jackson, Irene was friends with Mayme Dudley. Irene would accompany Maynard Jackson on his trips to the Dudley Motel during the Civil Rights movement.
Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor and UN ambassador, who often accompanied King remembers, "that was a good stop because they had good food and you could catch up with all the politics in Georgia. Those were the times when you couldn't go to the bathroom everywhere, so you sort of planned your stops. Here was a guy [referring to Dudley]who ran a good business, who knew everybody and who everybody respected his opinion, and everybody stopped there to get it..."
quoted from The Courier Herald's Downtown Dublin magazine
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Journey to the Mountaintop
Dr. King, along with Rev. Hosea Williams, Rev. Ralph Daniel Abernathy, former Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson would visit the Dudley Motel to rest, meet, and plan quietly. The first recorded date of King being at Dudley Motel was in 1961.
Business is Personal
"An ice cream or a penny"
"My grandfather (Hub) always gave the children a choice. No matter their color or station in life, he always let them choose between an ice cream or a penny at the dry goods store and the cafe." Carl Pearson
Dry Goods & Meat Market
once located in Dudley Funeral Home
One of the Dudleys' original businesses (circa 1900) was C D. Dudley & Sons, General Merchants, which was in the building that now houses the chapel of Dudley Funeral Home. The dry goods and groceries were moved to Dudley’s Amoco Service Station in the 1940s.
617 East Jackson Street
Clayton, Katie, and their son, Herbert, founded C.D. Dudley & Son, Undertakers & Embalmers, in 1922. The business expanded with the creation of Laurens County Casket Company, where wood and fabric caskets were manufactured and distributed across Georgia. By the 1940's the business had grown to occupy the entire East Jackson building. Today, Dudley Funeral Home operates out of its original home, under the principles of its founder with a strong sense of humanity for all humankind.
First African American Notary Public
Article from Atlanta Journal Constitution, 10 August, 1916
Herbert Dudley was the first African American to hold a commission as a notary public. Public outcry caused him to resign the commission a week later.
Grist Mill & Wood Yard
Corner of East Jackson & Truxton Streets
The above map, from Sanburn Fire Insurance Map, 1920 Sheet 3 shows the location of C. D. Dudley & Son Grist Mill & Wood Yard where Dudley's Motel, Cafe, & Service Station now stand.
Dudley Memorial Cemetery
Originally chartered in 1934, Dudley Memorial Cemetery is a 30 acre landscape in the northeast section of Dublin, Georgia. It was developed in answer to the need for an African American cemetery that was accessible in any weather.
Savings & Loan
Once located in Dudley Funeral Home
Laborers-Mechanics Realty & Investment Company, the first black owned and operated bank in Dublin. It was located in the west end of the East Jackson Street building.The vault from the investment company is still inside Dudley Funeral Home.
Thomasenor's Beauty & Barber Shop
503 East Jackson Street
The barber shop was relocated to Lawrence Street in the Cummings Building, and expanded, as Thomasenor’s Beauty & Barber Shoppe in 1934. Although Thomasenor was never a beautician, Dudley offered apprenticeships through the shop, as well as his hat store, shoe shop, and other businesses. These apprenticeships offered employment and advancement at a time when opportunities were few.
Pictured above is a beauty convention held at Thomasenor's Beauty Shop in the Cummings Building.
Georgia Negro 4-H Camp
Located at what is now Riverview Golf Course
Hub Dudley was a major fundraiser for the development and expansion of the Georgia Negro 4-H Camp in Dublin. Dudley is pictured above to the far right with the boutonniere.
Today, with the help of the Pearson family, The City of Dublin is pursuing a listing on the National Register of Historic Places for Emory Thomas Auditorium, the last remaining structure of Dublin's Negro 4-H Camp.
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Our thanks to the Pearson Family, historian Scott Thompson, DuBose Porter and Griffin Lovett of The Courier Herald, and Dublin-Laurens Historical Society for saving Herbert "Hub" Dudley's story through photos, documents, research, and interviews.