My Contribution: I founded and owned the Frye Hotel, a hub of activity in the final decade of the life of the Eighth Ward. My public legal dispute to transfer my license and hotel to 4th Street after the Capitol Park Extension made me an icon in the fight for Black rights. As both a football team owner and a singer, I supported the cultural well-being of Harrisburg. I also assisted dozens of citizens of the Seventh Ward in voting in 1931.
My Legacy: After the closure of my hotel, I remained active in my community as a foreman of city street cleaning and as an active Republican political advocate. I served as a precursory emblem of the Civil Rights movement as an advocate for my hotel, which served as a hub for African Americans in segregated Harrisburg, before it was demolished during the Capitol Park Extension Project. My advocacy work on behalf of African Americans also represents the long fight for truly equitable voting rights in the United States.
About Me: (Concerning illiterate and blind voters who needed assistance in the Seventh Ward), “Sixty-five were assisted by one man…Theodore Frye, a foreman of the street cleaners of the city highway department.” Harrisburg Telegraph, October 26, 1931.
Full Name: Theodore S. Frye
Birth Date: 1867
Death Date: May 17, 1937
Place of Birth: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Race: “Mulatto” (1880 and 1920 Federal Censuses), Black (1900 and 1910 Federal Censuses), “Negro” (1930 Federal Census), and “Colored” (Certificate of Death).
Places of Residence: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: 501 State Street (hotel, saloon, and eventual residence), 717 Cowden Street (1900-1909), 1004 N. 7th Street (1920-1923), and 635 Boas Street (1928-1937)
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Resident; hotel owner at 501 E. State Street.
Family Members: Father: George Frye. Mother: Julia Green Frye. Wife: Alice L. Woodyard Frye, m. 1889-1937. Son: Leslie Frye.
Education: Able to read and write according to the federal census.
Occupations: Barber. Hotelkeeper. Undertaker. City street inspector (Boas), Foreman of city street cleaners.
Church Membership: Bethel A.M.E. Church; Capital Street Presbyterian Church (funeral).
Activism: Women’s Relief Corps; City Republican Committee (member); Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church Benefits; Seventh Ward Voters’ League; and Verbeke Street Colored YMCA.
Connections: Jacob Compton, Joshua Robbin Bennett, A. Dennee Bibb, Maude Coleman, Peter Blackwell, Frisby C. Battis, George Galbraith, John W. Simpson, James H.W. Howard, Joseph L. Thomas, Leslie A. Marshall, Clarence Williams, Robert J. Nelson, James H. Auter, Percy Moore, Charles Crampton, Henry E. Parsons, Harry Burrs, William H. Marshall, Colonel Strothers, Daniel Potter, John P. Scott, Morris H. Layton, Sr., W. Justin Carter, and Anne E. Amos.