As was common in the area for the late 1940s the Hineses began holding house parties and suppers in their basement. These parties eventually grew to the outside and the Hineses built the still standing Juke Joint in a heavily wood section of their property. This helped to draw even larger crowds and more musicians like Big Jack Reynolds, B. B. King, Freddie King, Jimmy McCracklin, Bobby Blue Bland and John Lee Hooker. When the crowds grew even bigger a large pavilion was built as a joint venture with Mr. Luke onto the back of the main club. With it's large area and raised stage at the back it was more than capable of holding all of the fans who came for the shows. It also doubled as a skating rink during the warm months and became known as "Mr. Luke's Outdoor Pavilion." The pavilion's grand opening was August 12-13, 1961. Count Basie honored the opening with a performance from him and his Orchestra.
Another wonderful aspect of Hines Farm were the shake dancers. These female dancers would perform erotic dancing as a band or deejay played accompanying music. Along with the female dancers were female impersonators who performed with the shake dancers. Dancers and impersonators from all around would come to Hines Farm to perform and many were just as popular as the musicians.
With 30 acres of property, the events held at Hines Farm were not restricted to music and dancing. Exhibition baseball games, carnival rides, hayrides, horse racing, miniature golf and motorcycle racing were common events held throughout the year. One of the most popular was the motorcycle racing, sponsored by local black motorcycle clubs. Henry Griffin, the current owner reminisces:
Oh man, I just loved those motorcycles out there. There would be hundreds of guys in a bunch of different motorcycles clubs from all over, not only the Toledo area but as far as Mississippi and Alabama. They'd have all their motorcycles out here in this field and it was just a sea of bikes. Hines would send out a flyer that he was having a motorcycle race and he would have people come from all over, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. They'd get on their motorcycles and ride right up here and there would be thousands of them.What happened next can only be described as man's never satisfied need to grow. In the early 1960s the Toledo Express Airport extended it's runway cutting Route 295 in half. This forced everyone to seek an alternate route to Hines Farm and moved it from just off the beaten path to more of a backwoods country locale. People found it difficult to get to Hines Farm and many got lost either coming or going. Hines Farm was a victim to the Urban Renewal of the late 1960s as was the main music district in the heart of the black community. That area was Dorr Street and was demolished in the name of urban expansion. This spelled the end of Toledo's thriving blues music scene.
Fast forward to 1978, Frank and Sarah Hines were both in a rest home and their son had boarded up the entire farm. The buildings were in shambles; the club was all boarded up with major damage to the roof and interior. In walks Henry Griffin, who's history with Hines Farm goes back to his childhood when his parents would come up from their home in the south during the summer. Henry had so many fond memories of the place he decided to purchase and renovate the club. With lots of time and money Henry has reopened the old blues club, pavilion and juke joint.
Today, Griffin's Hines Farm Blues Club holds a blues show once a month showcasing blues talent from Toledo and beyond. In the tradition of Frank and Sarah Hines the club opens it's doors to everyone so all can have a good time. With great food, great music, and great atmosphere you are bound to have a great time at Griffin's Hines Farm Blues Club.
* Special thanks to Matthew A. Donahue, PhD.
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