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Posted at 03:15 PM ET, 08/22/2011

The place that fed a movement is an eyesore

As part of the Post’s coverage of the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, I wrote about an Atlanta restaurant and hotel that once was the epicenter, the kitchen and the recovery room for the city’s (sometimes literally) bruised and battered civil rights activists.

Back in the ’60s, the complex was known as Paschal’s Motor Hotel and Restaurant, a name that perhaps does not resonate as deeply to some as it does to those civil rights warriors who were granted access to the place to plan their activities. People like Andrew Young (who would become mayor of Atlanta), John Lewis (who would become a U.S. Representative from Georiga), Julian Bond (who would become chairman of the NAACP) and, of course, King himself.

The role that brothers Robert and James Paschal played in nurturing the movement is likely immortal, even if their once proud structure is dying right before Atlanta’s eyes. The complex that fed, sheltered and served as the conference room for the civil rights era is crumbling away, a rotting tombstone to a historic spot. It stands in stark contrast to the towering $120 million MLK granite memorial that opened to the public today.

You can read about Paschal’s here — and see how bad the property looks today in some photos after the jump.

The facade of the old Paschal Center, which Clark Atlanta University closed in 2003 because the school was apparently losing $500,000 a year. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The old property looks and smells as if the homeless now call it home. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Street philosophers and graffiti artists now use the old Paschal's as their canvas. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Many windows on the hotel's back side have been busted out and boarded up. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Much of the broken glass has landed near what was once the pool at the hotel. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The entrance to Paschal's is now just a vehicle for advertisements. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Or for placards promoting a glimpse into a future that has little to do with civil rights. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

A room with no view: The motor hotel appears to be rotting from the inside out. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

The latest incarnation of Paschal's is located in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood, not far from the historic site on MLK Jr. Drive, but a million miles from it in spirit. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

By  |  03:15 PM ET, 08/22/2011

Categories:  Media | Tags:  Tim Carman

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