Restaurants & Taverns

Green Turtle Cafe

A forerunner of the Green Turtle Hotel, the Green Turtle Café went through several iterations. It was located at 68 Furnace Street and opened around 1916 according to the Akron City Directory, under the name of Prince and Forman, Saloon. Its owners were Raleigh Prince and Leonard H. Forman. It is listed as such through 1918. In the 1920 directory, 68 Furnace Street is listed as a soft drink establishment under Leonard H. Forman’s personal entry. It continues to be listed in this manner through 1924 but does not appear after this date. The 68 Furnace St. address appears in the Akron Beacon Journal as the Green Turtle Café in a February 17, 1920, business listing as well as in the 1922 Negro Yearbook of Akron and Vicinity.  

Leonard Forman’s 1934-1935 Akron City Directory entry includes a restaurant at 55 N. Howard, though a name is not mentioned. This address becomes the Green Turtle Hotel in the 1937 Akron City Directory street listings and appears as the Green Turtle Café in a September 1964 help wanted ad in the Akron Beacon Journal. Forman became the proprietor of the Green Turtle Hotel and Café (by 1937, according to the Akron City Directory), at Federal and Howard Streets, merging the two establishments (see link to hotel entry above). In the 1970s, The Green Turtle was also a bar located at 568 South Arlington Street according to the Akron Beacon Journal Photograph collection on the Summit Memory website. It is not known at this time if this establishment was connected to the original on Furnace Street.   

Leonard Harrison Forman is best known as the proprietor of the Green Turtle Hotel. Forman was born in 1888. Various records list his place of birth as Baltimore or Philadelphia. In 1910 he was working as a servant for a family in Philadelphia, and by 1920 he was living in Akron at 736 Edgewood Avenue and working as the proprietor of the Green Turtle Café. His first marriage was to Pauline E. King in 1916 in Pennsylvania. They divorced in 1926. His second marriage was to Oda Beach whom he married in 1927 in Akron. 

Besides his work in hospitality, Forman was politically active and a member of several fraternal and social groups throughout the 1930s and 1940s. He was a member of the Colored Elks and later served as grand deputy and general chairman; served on an NAACP committee in 1938 to raise funds for George Thurman, a Black Akronite accused of a crime the previous year; founding member and later treasurer of Frontiers Service Club, organized in 1939 as “the second chapter as a National Service Group among Negro businesses and professional men”; member of the Akron Business Alliance, which was formed in 1946 to foster better relationships between business owners in Akron; member and treasurer of the Tire Town Democratic Club, which was headquartered at the Green Turtle Hotel. In 1944, Forman ran as a candidate for alternate-at-large delegate to the Democratic National Convention. It’s uncertain if he was elected. Forman died in 1951 at the age of 62. His wife Oda continued to run the Green Turtle Hotel until her death in 1957. 

  • Advertisement for Green Turtle Cafe

Resources

  • Akron, Barberton and Cuyahoga Falls Official City Directory, v. 52-53. Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, 1935-1937.
  • Akron, Cuyahoga Falls and Barberton Official City Directory, v. 51. Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, 1933. 
  • Akron Beacon Journal Photograph Collection, Green Turtle Bar after shooting, exterior, 1979, March 4, 1979, https://www.summitmemory.org/digital/collection/ABJarchives/id/7577/rec/2
  • Akron Beacon Journal Photograph Collection, Raid at the Green Turtle, 1977, July 16, 1977, https://www.summitmemory.org/digital/collection/ABJarchives/id/7572/rec/1
  • “Akron News.” Call & Post. February 1, 1940. 
  • Akron Official City Directory, v. 38-50. Burch Directory Company, Akron, Ohio, 1915-1931.
  • “Business Alliance Outgrowth of Recent Business Clinic Here.” Call & Post. July 13, 1946. 
  • “Frontier’s Club Installs ’39-’40 Officers.” Call & Post. June 8, 1939. 
  • “Furnace St. Café Raided by Police.” Akron Beacon Journal. August 17, 1922.
  • “Green Turtle Café.” Akron Beacon Journal. February 17, 1920.
  • “Leonard H. Forman,” 1910 United States Federal Census, Philadelphia Ward 22, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. National Archives, Washington, D.C. 
  • “Leonard H. Forman,” 1920 United States Federal Census, Akron Ward 4, Summit, Ohio. National Archives, Washington, D.C. 
  • “Leonard H. Forman,” Church Records. Norristown, Pennsylvania: Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.
  • “Leonard Harrison Forman,” Selective Service Registration Cards, World War II: Fourth Registration. Records of the Selective Service System, Record Group Number 147. National Archives and Records Administration. 
  • “Leonard H. Forman,” Summit County, Ohio, Marriage Records, 1840-1980. Akron, Ohio.  
  • “Leonard H. Forman,” World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C., National Archives and Records Administration, M1509.
  • “Mrs. Oda Forman.” Akron Beacon Journal. April 20, 1957. 
  • “N.A.A.C.P. Plans Forum on Jan. 23.” Akron Beacon Journal. January 4, 1938. 
  • Negro Yearbook of Akron and Vicinity, Akron, Ohio: Leon Gordie, Publisher, 1922.  
  • “Responsible Bar Maid.” Akron Beacon Journal. September 23, 1964.
  • “Rubber City News.” Call & Post. August 31, 1940.
  • “State Democratic Committee Places Three Negro Delegates on Ohio Primary Ballot.” Call & Post. April 15, 1944. 
68 Furnace St, Akron, OH (First location of Green Turtle Cafe)