City of Detroit receives $500,000 grant to preserve home of Dr. Ossian Sweet

Detroit preservationists got some great news this week: a house with historic significance to civil rights will be preserved in perpetuity. 

The city of Detroit received a $500,000 grant from African American Civil Rights program of the Historic Preservation Fund, National Park Service, and Department of the Interior to preserve and expand the historic district of the Dr. Ossian Sweet home. 

Dr. Sweet was an African-American physician who lived in Detroit's east side. In 1925, a mob gathered outside his house as part of a campaign to intimidate black homeowners who had moved into predominantly white neighborhoods. Some through rocks at the house, shots were fired, and one person in the mob died. 

Sweet was charged with murder, which he fought in court. He was eventually acquitted after being defended by legendary NAACP attorney Clarence Darrow. 

His house at 2905 Garland St. was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1975 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The federal grant is part of a nationwide effort to "preserve sites and highlight stories related to the African American struggle for equality in the 20th century," according to a city press release. "The grant will pay for the cost of preserving and interpreting a space in the Sweet house that will be open to the public for scheduled visits, and rehabilitating two additional properties across Garland Street."
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Aaron Mondry is a Detroit-based freelance writer. Visit his website and follow him on Twitter @AaronMondry.