Durham County

Pauli Murray’s landmark house to become more accessible

The historic Pauli Murray House at 906 Carroll St. in Durham, N.C.
The historic Pauli Murray House at 906 Carroll St. in Durham, N.C. dvaughan@heraldsun.com

The historic Pauli Murray House will become wheelchair accessible as the interior is restored, thanks to a National Park Service grant. Murray was a civil and women’s rights activist, lawyer, poet and the first African-American female Episcopal priest.

NPS awarded a grant for $237,575 to the Pauli Murray Center for History & Social Justice, which is set to open in 2020. The center is in the childhood home of Murray at 906 Carroll St. It was built in 1898 by her Fitzgerald family members. Murray was born in 1910.

The status of the building as a National Historic Landmark was celebrated in April.

The U.S. Department of Interior designated the house a landmark in December 2016 because “Murray’s scholarship and activism profoundly shaped American legal history and advanced the women’s and civil rights movements.”

Murray, who died in 1985, was named to The Episcopal Church’s “Holy Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints” book in 2012. She grew up in the West End and wrote about the experience in her 1956 memoir “Proud Shoes: The Story of An American Family.”

“Through the African American Civil Rights Grant Program, we’re helping our public and private partners tell unique and powerful stories of the African-American struggle for equality in the 20th century,” National Park Service Acting Director Michael Reynolds said in the announcement. The grant program was created in 2016 through the Historic Preservation Fund.

“This generous grant will catapult us toward our goal of opening in 2020,” board chair Mayme Webb-Bledsoe said. “Everyone will be invited to learn more about Pauli Murray and the struggles of the West End neighborhood we are so proud of.”

Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan: 919-419-6563, @dawnbvaughan