Artnet News recently reported on a Berlin-based artist who reconstructed one of Rosa Parks’s homes and is now trying to sell it to an American institution so that it can be publicly displayed. The Rosa Parks house sheltered the famous civil rights pioneer after she left Montgomery, Alabama, for Detroit, Michigan, because of death threats that she was receiving because of her activism. After Parks’s death the building was eventually abandoned and fell into disrepair, and the City of Detroit had slated the structure for demolition.
The house was saved by Rhea McCauley, Parks’s niece, who bought it for $500 in 2014. She then offered the building to Ryan Mendoza, an American artist based out of Berlin who had previous experience moving a house from Detroit to the Netherlands, so that he could move the building to a secure location. He then deconstructed the house, shipped it to Berlin, and rebuilt it in the European capital.
Artnet News talked to both McCauley and Mendoza, who said that Berlin was just a stopping point for the house while he found a more permanent custodian for the structure in the U.S., where it could potentially serve as part of an educational exhibit on the life of Parks, the civil rights movement, or the history of African American housing throughout the past century. As Mendoza notes in the artnet News article, the Parks house is a testament to the low-quality structures that many African Americans were forced to accept as racist policies and redlining excluded them from housing loans and affluent neighborhoods.
The article reported that Mendoza and McCauley were having trouble finding a suitable buyer, but that they are continuing their search and still hope to bring the structure back to the U.S.