Matthew’s Barber Shop was located inside Mathews Hotel, so it seems that the Green Book listing misspelled its name. This site appears in the Green Book from 1947 to 1955 and is located at 77 N. Howard Street within Hotel Matthews, but it was not George Mathews’ first barbershop. George Mathews first came to Akron in 1919 while passing through on vacation. He ended up liking it so much he returned in 1920 and bought an old boarding house at 106 N. Main. The boarding house had 11 rooms and Mathews opened a barbershop on the first floor to keep busy. Opening the barbershop fulfilled a lifelong dream for Mathews, who had fond memories of going to the barbershop with his father, “I stood there and watched the barber in the white coat and wanted a white coat so bad I didn’t know what to do,” Mathews said.
Using his life savings, Mathews converted a rooming house at the 77 N. Howard Street site into Hotel Matthews in 1925. The barbershop moved into Hotel Matthews too, and Mathews Beauty Shoppe was opened in 1930. Both the barber and beauty shops had the most modern facilities and up to date conveniences in the area, with “expert barbers, beauticians and manicurists”, with reasonable prices and first-class service. George Mathews worked in the barbershop during the day, and then would work at the hotel upstairs until midnight or 1:00 a.m. His wife, Alberta, also assisted with running the hotel, beauty salon and barbershop. In 1938, they bought the building next door to the hotel for additional rooms. They eventually built an addition on the rear of the original hotel in 1955 which gave them 55 rooms total. Mr. Mathews liked to describe his establishment as “a business with a soul”. The hotel, barbershop, and beauty salon were popular busy places for years until they were forced to close in 1978 due to urban redevelopment projects. The building was demolished in 1982 along with many other buildings on N. Howard Street. In 2012, a memorial was built where the hotel stood to honor the successful Black business district that was demolished.
Green Book Details
Matthew’s appears in the Green Book from 1947 to 1955 at 77 N. Howard St. in Akron under the category Barber Shops.
- “Barber Shops” and “Beauty Shoppes” Listings, Akron Negro Directory, 1940.
- “Former Alabama Porter Donates $25,000,” Akron Alumni Magazine, Summer 1964.
- “His Formula: You Work a Little Harder,” Akron Beacon Journal, February 2, 1958.
- “Mathews Hotel, Beauty Salon Asset to Akron,” The Pittsburgh Courier, January 28, 1933.
- “Memorial Recalls Akron’s Jazz Era”, The Akron Beacon Journal, January 9, 2012.
- “Try Mathews Hotel for Modern Living,” The Pittsburgh Courier, April 28, 1956.