Rosa Parks house brought to Europe for display

Sep 15, 2020



The house of civil rights icon Rosa Parks is now on display—in Italy.

After a journey spanning two continents and three countries, Parks’ Detroit home is now on public display at the Royal Palace in Naples.

Parks, who was from Montgomery, Alabama, sought refuge in the run-down, paint-chipped Detroit house after the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott. Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger sparked the boycott, one of the most important civil rights demonstrations in American history.

After receiving threats to her life, Parks fled to Detroit and lived in the house with family for the rest of her life. She died in 2005.

The house was abandoned after Parks’ death. Threatened with demolition in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, it was saved by Parks’ niece, Rhea McCauley.

McCauley purchased the house for $500, and then donated it to artist Ryan Mendoza. Still unsuccessful in persuading the City of Detroit to save the house, Mendoza had it dismantled and reconstructed at a lot outside his studio in Berlin, Germany, in 2016.

After two years of public display in Germany, Mendoza failed to find a permanent exhibition place for the house in the U.S. Thanks to a new partnership Mendoza formed with the Italy’s Morra Greco Foundation, however, it has been transferred to Naples’ Royal Palace, where it now sits in the palace’s central courtyard.

The Parks house exhibition opened to the public on Tuesday. As public opinion about racial tensions in the U.S. has spilled over into international discourse, the fact that Parks’ home now resides in a foreign country has taken on fresh significance.