In 1944, Mrs. Z.L. Ratliffe opened The Riverside Hotel as a boarding house for Blacks, eventually extending the building to include 20 guest rooms over two floors. As one of the only Black hotels and boarding homes in Jim Crow-era Mississippi, The Riverside played host to a who's who of musical legends such as Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, Howlin’ Wolf, and Duke Ellington, making it central to American musical history as a landmark of the legendary Delta Blues sound and—literally—one of the birthplaces of rock and roll.
Owned by the Ratliffe family since 1957, The Riverside is also the only hotel related to blues history that is still Black-owned in Clarksdale. But the building, which has not been operational since storm damage in April 2020, needs significant rehabilitation. The current owners are seeking partnerships and funding to repair and reopen the hotel so it can continue to serve as a destination for musicians, tour groups, and other blues aficionados.
The Riverside Hotel was placed on America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2021 by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.