Renovation enthusiasts and historic preservationists have an interesting opportunity in Jefferson Chalmers. This home was recently pulled from the demolition list due to its historic significance. It’s currently taking bids on the Land Bank’s Own it Now site, starting at $3,000. It will remain up until May 17, or until an offer is accepted.
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network chatted with Curbed about this historic background of this house. According to MHPN, it was the family home of Dr. Albert Henry Johnson, the third African American graduate from the Detroit College of Medicine and one of the founders of Dunbar Hospital, the first African American non-profit hospital in Detroit. He was an early member of the Detroit Urban League and also the Phyllis Wheatly Home, an organization devoted to improving the lives of African American women. He practiced medicine for 59 years and was the son of Dr. Levi Johnson, the first African American to practice medicine in Michigan.
Dr. Johnson was also the first African American resident of Jefferson-Chalmers, purchasing and moving into his home in 1921. At the time, restrictive covenants prevented the sale or rental of properties to non-whites east of Algonquin Avenue. As a respected physician, Dr. Johnson and his family moved into Jefferson-Chalmers without incident (a notable exception to Dr. Ossian Sweet’s experience moving into a home at 2905 Garland in 1925 where a violent altercation with white neighbors led to a significant civil rights trial in the 1920s, with Clarence Darrow defending Dr. Sweet).
The Michigan Historic Preservation Network provided Curbed with some additional photos of the historic architectural features still intact.
The house will require a significant investment and renovation. More details can be found on the listing. Might one of our readers know someone interested in taking on a historic restoration?