Green and white awnings and a small sign are all that distinguish the Richmond home of Maggie L. Walker from neighboring duplexes that have been carefully restored to their appearance circa 1925.
What distinguished Walker in her day was her skill at overcoming all the obstacles society could place before a black woman living under Jim Crow segregation laws.
But wait. Maggie who?
The answer to that is in the story I wrote on Walker for today's Washington Post travel section. I won't repeat a lot of what is in it, since you can read it for yourself.
It was cool taking the walking tour in Richmond and learning some of the black history of the Southern city. Including about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson who was born in Richmond.
What I didn't get into much in the Washington Post story were the hotel and restaurants I went to. I really liked Croaker's spot, a warm and friendly Southern style place. Most entrees come with a "block of cornbread." My kind of place.
I went to the restaurant solo and immediately felt at home. The host seated me at a primo table near the window. The waiter came over with a friendly, "First time?" When I said yes, he said, "Loosen up your belt."
From what I read about the place, I wasn't getting special treatment. The staff treats everyone like this. It was fun. When I couldn't finish my seafood chili (delicious), the waiter commented, "If you could eat all the food here, we'd roll you out to the car in a wheelbarrow." I wouldn't want that. Take my plate away.
As for my hotel, I wouldn't say it was the lap of luxury, having last been renovated decades ago. But the Lindon Row Inn in Richmond had several good things to recommend it. For one, the historic inn has a nice feel to it, with an exterior walkway connecting the buildings that comprise it, although the rooms definitely feel dated.
And, the inn is within a few blocks of the Maggie Walker house in the historic Jackson Ward.
At the end of my weekend, I ended up in trendy Shockoe Bottom for a couple of hours, waiting for my bus. I didn't like that. It felt like a jolt that brought me back to the present time. I had enjoyed living in another era for the weekend.
Photos: Ellen Perlman
1. Maggie L. Walker house, National Historic site. 2. Linden Row Inn. 3. Kitchen, Maggie Walker house. 4. The Hippodrome, restored historic theater.