Hotels & Tourist Homes

Upperman House

The Upperman House was located at 193 Bluff Street in Akron and owned by Mary Upperman and her husband Rev. Louis M. Upperman. The Uppermans moved to Akron in 1916. Rev. Upperman was a pastor at the Wesley Temple A.M.E. Zion Church until his sudden death in 1917. It was immediately following her husband’s death that Mary Upperman decided to take on entrepreneurship.

Mary Upperman operated the large rooming house for African Americans, mostly men, in the early 1920s. Since many of Akron’s businesses and hotels refused work and lodging to African Americans during this period, small Black-owned businesses were established as a result. The rates at the Upperman were reasonable and the location was central to other Black-owned businesses and a post office. A small fire occurred on February 16, 1922, due to a defective flue in the chimney. The extent of the damage is unknown, yet Mary Upperman continued to run the rooming house at the 193 Bluff Street location. She also started an Employment Bureau at 193 Bluff Street for African Americans looking for work as maids, laundresses, and laborers. Mary Upperman was noted as the most successful African American businesswoman during the Progressive Period in Akron. In addition to running an employment bureau and rooming house, she also owned and operated a grocery and confectionary at 187 Bluff Street. She also became the owner of Globe Drug Store located at 103 North Main Street in Akron in the 1930s. It was the only Black-owned drugstore in Akron during this time.

Mary Upperman died of pneumonia on December 5, 1937. She left two adopted sons, Marcellis and Robert Upperman. Following her death, Mary’s brother Walter McSwain moved to Akron to oversee the business at 193 Bluff Street. Another fire occurred at the rooming house on 193 Bluff Street in March 1940, with $500 in damage due to a dropped cigarette. McSwain was still operator of the rooming house at that time.

Green Book Details

The Upperman appears in the Green Book from 1938 to 1950 at 193 Bluff St. in Akron under the category Hotels.


  • “Deflective Flue.” Akron Beacon Journal. February 17, 1922.
  • Endres, Kathleen L. Progressive Period (1900-1919)- Mary Upperman. Akron Women’s History blog. September 6, 2013.
  • Lindsey, Hosea. “Pneumonia Takes Life Of Outstanding Race Woman.” Call & Post. December 9, 1937.
  • McClain, Shirla Robinson. “The Contribution of Blacks In Akron, 1825-1975.” Ph.D. diss., University of Akron, 1975. Pp. 171, 177.
  • “Seven Families Routed By Fire.” Akron Beacon Journal. March 20, 1940.
  • Photo. UA_Stewart_Box06_628001. Horace and Evelyn Stewart Photo Collection. University of Akron Archives.
193 Bluff St, Akron, OH

Tell us about Upperman House

Many of the locations documented on Green Book Cleveland are not well-documented in the historical record. If you have additional information about Upperman House, please let us know by sharing a memory, correction, or suggestion using the comment form below.

Or send an email to

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *