Barber Shops & Beauty Parlors

Matthew’s Barber Shop & Beauty Shoppe

Matthew’s Barber Shop was located inside Mathews Hotel at 77 N. Howard Street, so it seems that the Green Book listing misspelled its name. It was not George Mathews’ first barber shop. 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 with eleven rooms at 106 N. Main. 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 barber shop with his father. As he later recalled, “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.”

Using his life savings, Mathews converted a rooming house at the 77 N. Howard Street site into Hotel Matthews in 1925. The barber shop 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.

Hotel Matthews, with barber pole, on N. Howard Street, ca. 1930 | University of Akron Archives and Special Collections
Mr. and Mrs. George W. Mathews | Pittsburgh Courier, April 28, 1956
Hotel Matthews Monument | Photo by Rose Vance-Grom

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.


  • “Former Alabama Porter Donates $25,000.” Akron Alumni Magazine. Summer 1964. 
  • “His Formula: You Work a Little Harder.” Akron Beacon Journal. February 2, 1958. 
  • Kingsberry, A., ed. Akron Negro Directory. Akron, OH: Kingsberry, 1940. 
  • “Mathews Hotel, Beauty Salon Asset to Akron.” Pittsburgh Courier. January 28, 1933. 
  • “Memorial Recalls Akron’s Jazz Era.” Akron Beacon Journal. January 9, 2012.
  • “Try Mathews Hotel for Modern Living.” Pittsburgh Courier. April 28, 1956. 
77 N Howard St, Akron, OH

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