Detroit’s Historic Women’s Clubhouse Receives $75K Preservation Grant

A $75,000 grant is being issued to preserve a historic Black landmark in Detroit, The Detroit News reports.

The History of Equal Rights Grant, funded by the Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board, will go toward the preservation of the Detroit Association of Women’s Club, which was known as the Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Club when it was founded in 1921.

According to The Detroit News, the club merged eight clubs of Black women who joined forces to address the social and welfare issues of Detroit’s Black community. The club is “one of the oldest continuing Women’s clubs in Detroit,” Janese Chapman, director of the Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board, said. The headquarters was purchased in 1941 under the presidency of civil rights activist Rosa Slade Gragg.

The group changed the building’s address, which was located between Ferry and Brush Streets, due to laws that prohibited Black residents in the area.

“At the time they were looking to acquire a clubhouse, Black people could not live on Ferry Street between the Woodward and John R,” Chapman said. “So…they had the address changed. There was originally an address on Ferry Street, and they changed the address and moved it around the corner to the address on (Brush Street) so they could buy the property.”

Funds from the National Parks Service grant will also go toward applying the building for the National Register of Historic Places.

“The grant itself is basically to bring (the National Parks Service) to align with the history of all America,” Chapman said. “The National Park Service, what they have been doing and what they strive to do, is to make sure that the history of America is being told particularly from the point of view of underrepresented folks (and) communities.”

According to Chapman, the grant marks the first time the city of Detroit has received a History of Equal Rights grant, a contribution funded by the federal Historic Preservation Fund.

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