Rosa Parks' Former Detroit House Finally Found a New Home — in Italy

Rosa Parks

The Detroit house that Rosa Parks lived in after her famous public act of defiance against American segregation has finally found a new home — in Naples, Italy.

The modest, two-story house had been abandoned and set for demolition in 2014 when Parks’ niece, Rhea McCauley, bought it from the city for $500. The house has since made a journey from Detroit to Berlin and back to the U.S., where it failed to sell for the $1 million minimum price it sought at auction.

It now stands on the expansive grounds of an 18th-century royal palace in Naples, the Associated Press reports, an exhibition made possible by American-born, Berlin-based artist Ryan Mendoza. The house has been reconstructed within a courtyard and is accompanied by an eight-minute, 46-second soundtrack, a tribute to George Floyd who was killed by Minnesota police officers in May.

Mendoza previously exhibited the house in Berlin and had hoped it would eventually find a place for itself in the U.S. as a national monument to the civil rights movement. “The unsung story behind the Rosa Parks House is one of redlining, housing inequality, and its persistent effects on millions of Americans today,” Mendoza told artnet in 2018.

The house, built in southwest Detroit in 1936, looks fragile, like something that could tip over at any moment. Parks moved into that house after her 1955 refusal to move to the back of a Montgomery, Alabama, bus resulted in death threats.

McCauley gave the house to Mendoza in 2017. Mendoza tried unsuccessfully to keep the home in Detroit but ended up dismantling and moving it. He told the Associated Press he hopes the Italian exhibit helps the U.S. “remember a house it didn’t know it had forgotten.”

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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