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Miller-Roy Building Once Housed Famous Blues Musicians

Miller-Roy building in dowtown Monroe PRESTON LAUTERBACH / PRESTONLAUTERBACH.COM
Miller-Roy building today

In 1929, The African-American Enterprise established the Miller-Roy building in Monroe, Louisiana. The  building, once owned by prominent African-American figures Dr. John T. Miller and Dr. Joseph C. Roy, is located on DeSiard Street. 

The building was also a part of what was known as the Black Business Strip. Stretching from South 5th Street to South 15th Street, the strip was made up of many African-American owned businesses including pharmacies, hotels and insurance companies.

Only months after the completion of the building, the Great Depression occurred, leaving Dr. Miller and Dr. Roy in a financial crisis.

The stock market crash left the two business owners with little options on how to continue financing the building, eventually causing them to almost lose their homes. Fortunately, they were able to come up with a business plan that would help keep the building open and The Savoy Ballroom was created.

Roosevelt Wright, an influential figure within the African-American community, shared a little of what he knows about the Miller-Roy building, “One of the things that helped to save it was the Savoy Ballroom on the third floor. The Savoy Ballroom was what attracted many musicians that would later become nationally renowned.”

The Savoy Ballroom was a performance venue for many famous musicians, as well as those who were just starting their musical careers. “They had just about all the big names that we know, especially the Louisiana ones,” said Wright. “It was people like Fats Domino, but then you had Billy Holiday and you had Duke [Ellington]. He came before he had his big orchestra.”

Almost a century later, The Miller-Roy building is still standing. Today, people can visit the building at 1001 DeSiard Street to see how this now crumbling building once held the magnificent Savoy Ballroom.  

Byway Blues is produced with the generous support of Washington Wine and Spirits, the Entergy Charitable Foundation, and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities.