The A.G. Gaston Motel will open to the public beginning Thursday, June 29. The motel, the headquarters of the 1963 Birmingham civil rights movement, will be open Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a limited time.
The motel is the centerpiece of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which was established in 2017 by President Barack Obama. Now jointly owned by the city of Birmingham and the National Park Service, the motel has been undergoing an interior renovation and exhibits have been set up.
“It is our hope that the gift of the restored Gaston Motel will serve to inspire residents and visitors for current and future generations to come,” said Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. “This historic site is hallowed ground. The strategies, meetings and work of activists that took place here contributed in part to the freedoms we have today.”
The A.G. Gaston Construction Co., a legacy of Dr. A. G. Gaston, was contracted to undertake the restoration, which began in 2019 in a multi-phase project. The city of Birmingham committed $10 million to the hotel’s renovation. The Mellon Foundation awarded a $1.1 million grant to the city for the restoration of the motel and funds were also granted from the “Humanities in Place” program.
The NPS manages the 1954 wing of the motel, which includes Dr. Martin Luther King’s War Room 30 where he strategized plans for the movement. The restoration of this wing was completed in December 2020. The city manages the 1968 wing, which includes the Gaston exhibit, honoring his life and legacy. This restoration work was started in 2021 and is now complete.