Jessie Pope

Aco-founder and first president of the local NAACP, Jessie Pope also owned with her husband William the Hotel Pope at 1318 French Street (“Pope Hotel” to locals), a major cultural institution in Erie from the time of its opening in 1928 until its closure in 1978.  Following the death of her husband, Jessie managed the hotel on her own—one of the very few African American women business owners in that era.  When Jessie’s son Ernie Wright, Sr. took over management, the Pope Hotel began welcoming entertainment luminaries as Duke Ellington, Jackie Wilson and Pearl Bailey to perform for its “floor shows.”  Although these African American greats could not stay at white-owned hotels, the Pope welcomed through its doors an interracial audience of black and white.

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