William Skirvin passed away in 1945 and the hotel was sold to hotelier Dan James. Under his leadership, the hotel continued to thrive. He modernized the hotel and made other changes including a large ballroom and a club on the lower floor. Soon, the hotel became the hottest place in town, attracting celebrities and politicians including Frank Sinatra and Harry Truman.
James also provided employment opportunities for members of the local African American community, which afforded them the chance to gain a semblance of respect. Local African American activists, most notably Clara Luper (1923-2011), organized sit-ins at the hotel, which eventually compelled the hotel to desegregate, becoming the first hotel in the city to do so.
The hotel began to decline after the war, as people started to move to the suburbs. The James family (Dan passed away in 1945) was forced to sell the hotel in the early 1960s. The hotel continued to operate under new ownership until finally closing in 1988. It was then left vacant and fell into disrepair. However, as noted above, it underwent a $50 million dollar renovation and reopened in 2007 as part of the Hilton portfolio of hotels.