Staff Report

DETROIT – The former Detroit home of civil rights icon Rosa Parks is set to be torn down and refashioned for a new purpose.

The Detroit Free Press ( ) reported that what’s left of the blighted home in the southwestern part of the city will be torn down Monday. The property will be turned into an urban garden that is planned to supply the neighborhood with vegetables.

Park’s niece Rhea McCauley said it was a challenge to find a financial backer to help preserve the home. After striking out locally, McCauley sought artist Ryan Mendoza, who has lived in Europe for about 20 years and is recognized for his artwork in Detroit.

Mendoza said Sunday he shouldn’t have been the one to have stepped up for the project.

“It should be somebody in the black community doing this, not a white guy. I’m not even from Detroit. But my choice was … Do I leave Rosa Parks’ house to be demolished by the city, or do I step up and say OK, I’m going to help (McCauley) preserve the memory and save this house?’ That’s what this project is all about,” Mendoza said.

Parks became an international civil rights icon after she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. When she left the South in 1957 and came to Detroit to stay with family, she first settled at the home on South Deacon Street, McCauley said.

The home’s facade has been removed and will be refashioned into a replica-style artwork that’ll be shown in museums across Europe.

While McCauley is excited that the home will in some way be preserved, she thinks the city should do more to preserve the legacy of her aunt.

“She loved the city, but I don’t think the city loved her very much back,” McCauley said about Parks. “This house should have been preserved here. But we live in a world where every other project takes precedence.” A couple dozen well-wishers and two relatives gathered at Parks’ onetime home for a private send- off Sunday afternoon which included featured hip-hop and singing performances.