If you were African American in Jax during the Jim Crow era, the Two Spot was the hotspot nightspot. The fondly remembered venue was located at 45th & Moncrief in the northwest portion of the city.
The Two Spot’s father was the African American businessman James “Charlie Edd” Craddock, who found success in various ventures. The Jax resident opened his entertainment center on Christmas Day, 1940. Less than two years later, the NAACP’s magazine rated it as “the finest dance palace in the country owned by a Negro.” In air conditioned comfort, two thousand people could jitterbug, bebop, and swing on a “mirror-like” dance floor made of oak. (Another thousand could be seated on the main floor and mezzanine, which surrounded three sides.) Consider such tuneful luminaries as B. B. King, Dinah Washington, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Lionel Hampton, Ruth Brown, Charlie Singleton, and Jackie Wilson (“The Black Elvis”): These celebrities created cool sounds at the Two Spot, while a soda fountain concocted cool treats. Patrons could also frequent a bar, cafeteria, and several private dining rooms at the venue.
The Two Spot proved a favorite haunt for many African American schools, fraternities, sororities, clubs, and businesses, which held their celebrations there. The Afro-American Insurance Company, for instance, staged a yearly dance, with men bedecked in bowties and ladies in evening gowns. Following Mr. Craddock’s death in 1957, the Two Spot was sold and renamed the Palms Ballroom. The venue is now just a musical memory, for a housing development occupies the old site.
~written by Glenn Emery