Lonely Planet Writer

Rosa Parks’ restored Detroit home is going on display this weekend...in Berlin

Rosa Parks’ restored Detroit home is going on display to the public this weekend…in Berlin.

Rosa Parks' house during the reconstruction in Berlin earlier this year.
Rosa Parks’ house during the reconstruction in Berlin earlier this year. Image by Fabia Mendoza

The American icon was heavily involved in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and lived in the Detroit house between 1957 and 1959. During her tenure there, she participated in activism while working for a local Congressman. The house itself had several owners before Parks’ niece Rhea McCauley bought the house back for just $500, but by this time, it had become inhospitable due to floods. The house was facing demolition as she was unable to restore it.

Unable to fund a restoration herself, she approached US artist Ryan Mendoza who concocted a plan to dismantle the house and ship it to his home in Berlin. Using funds earned from selling some of his paintings, he spent $33,000 and 18 days dismantling the house and brought it across the Atlantic in containers before rebuilding it in his studio as an art project. While it has been restored, the signs of neglect have been intentionally left there.

The signs of neglect on the Rosa Parks house have been left there to see.
Rosa Parks house as it stood in Detroit, September 2016. Image by Fabia Mendoza

Mendoza has said he would love for the house to be restored properly in its rightful place in Detroit but without proper funding this is not possible yet. It will go on display at the CWC Gallery this weekend and while visitors will not be able to enter the house, it will be illuminated and play music and news clips from the 1950s. McCauley will fly to Germany to attend the opening and the premiere of a documentary about the project.

The Rosa Parks house will be shown in conjunction with an exhibition featuring photography from both Ryan Mendoza and Steve Schapiro. Schapiro is a renowned photo journalist who has captured portraits of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King and also covered the historic Selma March.

Rosa Parks at the Selma March, Alabama, 1965.
Rosa Parks at the Selma March, Alabama, 1965. Image by Steve Schapiro

Mendoza’s contributions will star Rose McGowan, an actress turned film director and activist, who has posed for a series of politically charged scenes with photographs of Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Rose McGowan with Young Putin 1
Rose McGowan with Young Putin 1 Image by Ryan Mendoza

Get the top travel news stories delivered straight to your inbox every weekday by signing up to our newsletter.