A Return to Harlem
GOP club will reopen at Hotel Theresa
By Curtis L. Taylor
August 28, 2002
After nearly seven decades of being dormant, the Harlem Republican Club is expected to reopen this fall at the historic site of the former Hotel Theresa.
The club, first established in 1880, withered during the 1930s, a time when black voters turned en masse to the Democratic Party of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal.
The new club will be in a building once dubbed the Waldorf of Harlem, where Joe Louis celebrated his victories, Malcolm X maintained the Organization of Afro-American Unity and Fidel Castro received Nikita S. Khrushchev. It is now the Theresa Towers office building on Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard between 124th and 125th streets.
Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sandy Treadwell, who heads the State Republican Committee, and Assemb. John Ravitz, the party chief in Manhattan, will host a fund-raiser for the new club tomorrow night at the Studio Museum in Harlem at 144 W. 125th St.
"What we are trying to do with the Harlem Republican Club is to educate the community about what benefits the party has to offer and to focus on outreach," said Della Hawkins, co-district leader with Will Brown.
Adrienne Rhodes, former state Consumer Affairs Board chairwoman, said the club, set to open in October, will help create a better understanding of what Republicans believe the party stands for and the benefits its leadership has provided.
Rhodes cited, for example, Republican administrations' efforts to have part of Harlem declared a federal economic empowerment zone, which she credited with leading to an infusion of cash and revitalization projects into the community.
"The vision is that once the elections are over the real work of the club will began," Ravitz said. "The space will be designed to use for afterschool programs and weekend tutorial programs so that we are a constant presence in the community and a helpful neighbor."
The move comes as Republicans and Democrats vie for African-American and Latino votes in local and statewide races this November and as some local black Republicans have privately criticized the GOP for not providing more campaign support.
Still, there has been a Republican resurgence in Harlem, with a record number of African-American and Latino candidates running on the Republican line. Yesterday, Rhodes and Hawkins praised local and state party leaders for "making a significant investment to establish the club.
"We are here to go forward with new ideas with a new generation," Hawkins said.
From Malcolm X to the GOP, the history of the Hotel Theresa, now known as Theresa Towers.
Opens on Seventh Avenue between 124th and 125th streets. Designed by architects George and Edward Blum.
After it is desegregated, it is frequented by black celebrities, including Louis Armstrong, Sugar Ray Robinson, Lena Horne and Dinah Washington. Joe Louis celebrates victories at the Theresa.
Ron Brown, who would go on to become commerce secretary, lives there while his father manages the hotel. Around the same time, future U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-Harlem) works as a desk clerk.
Fidel Castro receives Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev after the Cuban delegation's eviction from Shelburne Hotel, for alleged misdeeds that included cooking chickens in their rooms and causing $10,000 worth of damage. While at the Theresa, Castro also meets with Malcolm X, who maintained the Organization of Afro-American Unity at the hotel.
Renovated as office space.
Designated official city landmark.
Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.