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Historic Detroit meeting space for Black women receives $75K federal grant

By: - August 15, 2023 3:18 pm

Detroit Association of Women’s Clubs building. | city of Detroit

Updated, 3:40 p.m., 8/15/23

The city of Detroit Historic Designation Advisory Board on Monday announced that the Detroit Association of Colored Women’s Club (DACWC) is one of only eight projects selected by the National Park Service to receive a $75,000 History of Equal Rights grant. 

The grant will establish a historic structures report, which will help direct the organization’s efforts to maintain and preserve the building. Additionally, the project will complete an individual nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. 

The headquarters sits at the corner of East Ferry Avenue and Brush Street in Detroit’s Cultural Center neighborhood. 

The designation will allow both the DACWC building and the city of Detroit to seek out future funding to help pay for rehabilitation of the structure through philanthropic efforts and financial opportunities via the National Park Service, Michigan’s Certified Local Government program and other preservation initiatives.

The club was founded in 1921 from the coalition of eight clubs of Black women who organized to confront social and welfare issues within the Black community. The building was acquired by the DACWC in 1941 under the club’s president Rosa Slade Gragg, a noted African American city resident. 

At its peak in 1945, the association included more than 70 clubs and 3,000 members. It was a decade when Detroit’s Black population doubled from 149,000 residents in 1940 to 300,000 residents in 1950. 

A Michigan Historical Marker was placed on the site in 1986.

The grant project is one of five recent grants awarded to the Historic Designation Advisory Board that aims to document and highlight underrepresented communities in Detroit. 

Correction: This story originally had an incorrect amount for the grant in the headline.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman writes about Southeast Michigan, history and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on Black life in Detroit.

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