Rosa Parks’ Detroit Home Restored and On Display in Berlin

By Sameer Rao Apr 10, 2017

Thanks to her niece and a Europe-based American artist’s joint efforts, Rosa Parks‘ former Detroit house escaped likely destruction and now stands across the Atlantic Ocean in Berlin. 

The Washington Post reported today (April 10) that the wooden, three-bedroom house where Parks lived with extended family in the late 1950s had its first visitors over the weekend. Niece Rhea McCauley, one of those relatives, purchased the deteriorating house for $500 from the City of Detroit, which planned to demolish it. "It is something that is precious," she said to The Detroit Free Press/The Associated Press last week. "And it is priceless. And yet it is being mistreated."

Unable to raise funds to restore the house, McCauley approached Ryan Mendoza, a White artist who had faced accusations of trafficking "ruin porn" when he rebuilt another Detroit house for an exhibit in the Netherlands last year. "[McCauley] wanted to find out if I was a good guy or a bad guy, if I was trying to exploit or salvage the memory of her aunt," Mendoza told to the Post.

Agreeing on a plan with McCauley, Mendoza and several volunteers started deconstructing the house last August. The artist paid to ship the materials in October and rebuilt the property. The outside closely replicates the home’s original exterior, but Mendoza told the Post that the interior remains hidden behind curtains "to restore its dignity." He accompanied the opening display with audio from when Parks lived in the house. 

The house reopens to the public from April 28 to 30. Mendoza hopes to eventually sell the house and donate proceeds to the Rosa Parks Family Foundation. 

(H/t The Detroit Free Press)