Throwback Thursday: Nearly 80 years of history at George Washington Carver Center
Over the past month, we shared a couple stories about the old Southern Queen Hotel in
Downtown Bowling Green’s historic Shake Rag district. This area of town was once designated
to be a black neighborhood, during the time of segregation and Jim Crow. Some of the items the
City found inside the old Southern Queen were relics from the George Washington Carver
Center. Some of the neighborhood’s most prominent members formed the George Washington
Carver Club in 1946, and the Carver Center itself came along four years later in 1950.
Back in 1946, Shake Rag neighbors Ora Porter and Coley Hutcherson founded the George
Washington Carver Club. The founding group’s used the famous African American scientist,
environmentalist, humanitarian, and inventor’s name as inspiration for its mission. The mission
was to promote and foster goodwill amongst its people, to encourage programming that raised
the standards of civic morality, heritage, and community welfare, to engage in activities that
fostered good citizenship in its youth, and to furnish recreational and social facilities for the
When the club first started, there were monthly meetings hosted at the homes of the founding
members. Each meeting had refreshments and a speaker that encouraged cultivating the minds
of their youth, a safe haven away from the pressures of segregation and discrimination. Other
members included Ashula Williams, Mable Moore, Annie Becket, Theresa Boyd, Nobie Temple,
Alroma Nichols, Vadie Denning, Marjie Bothic, Delores Moses, and Hortense Yarbough.
In 1950, with help of other community groups, the George Washington Carver Center was
established on the corner of Center and 2nd Streets. The building became a community
gathering place and served as a black after school program home. In the late 1980s, because of
urban renewal, the Carver Center building was moved to its current location on State Street,
across from the old State Street High Gym and the old Southern Queen.
The Carver Center is a non-profit that tells Shake Rag stories and hosts programming with its
artifacts and displays of Bowling Green’s black history. The center hosts an annual pecan sale
fundraiser every fall, is available for rent for events, and is open to showcase its displays on the
first and third Fridays of the month from noon to 4 p.m.
Find out more at the George Washington Carver Center site: www.carvercenterbg.com. The
center will host the October 11th Downtown Meet Up from 3-4pm, a free monthly event put on
by the City, designed to share Downtown event news, new businesses, and act as a public forum
for Downtown planning.