The historic contract to publish the Maple Leaf Rag was a major event in American music history. Joplin’s composition became the first ragtime best seller and ushered in the Ragtime Era of American popular music. The unique royalty contract itself was a milestone in the protection of intellectual property rights and went a long way toward stimulating what became known as Tin Pan Alley.
But it was also a major event in American race relations as a white businessman and the son of a slave entered a inter-racial partnership to publish a black man’s composition. Thus, this location at 114 E. Fifth Street marks the site of an important place where America’s music began!