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Historic Richmond International Hotel burns

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Just before six o’clock Monday morning, reports of a fire at the old, unoccupied Richmond hotel flooded in. Firefighters arrived five minutes later to find the building fully engulfed in flames.

The fire spread to houses on either side of the building. Six people were evacuated, and no injuries were reported, said battalion chief Rico Rincon.

Rincon said investigators are still trying to determine a cause of the blaze. Squatters have been known to stay in the building, he added, although no one was there Monday morning.

The fire brought down the relic of a rich past still in the process of being preserved. Built in the 1900s, in the time of legally enforced racial segregation, the hotel served the underpaid Black pullman porters of the Pullman railroad company. The Black porters, who earned $2 a day, were prohibited from staying at the Pullman owned hotel, which was reserved for the white Pullman employees.

It was also an after-hours entertainment spot, where artists, such as Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway, reportedly performed around World War II.

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