Category Archives: Houses

910 Fayette Street – Not the House I Thought It Was!

While looking for information about the house my grandmother Pearl Reed and her family lived during the time she wrote the letters to Homer Jarrett, I decided to look in the real estate section of the Indianapolis newspapers.  I came across an an item offering the  house that my grandfather Albert B. Cleage and his brothers lived in at 910 Fayette, for rent. (Click on images to enlarge.)

910 Fayette is at the bottom of the list.
The little blue house on the left was 906 and 908 until the numbers were changed and then it became 910 and 912. The two story house on the right was 910 and 912 until the addresses changed and then it was 914 and 916.  This is a Google photo.

When visiting Indianapolis a decade ago, my daughter Ayanna drove me around the city looking for family homes. We found nothing but parking lots and weed covered land where our ancestors used to live, until we found a little blue house numbered 910 Fayette standing and in good condition.

I took this photo the day we found the house. You can see the number 910 on the door.

My father, Albert Buford Cleage, Jr, was born at 910 Fayette on June 13, 1911. His parents had married the year before when Albert Sr. completed his medical training and received his physician’s license. I imagined how crowded it must have been  with Jacob, his wife Gertrude, Henry, Albert and later Pearl sharing one half of the small two family home.

Next, I looked at the Sanborn Fire Maps for Indianapolis, Indiana, to see how and if the house had changed over the years. The oldest map was from 1887. I could not find 910 Fayette. The street numbers only went up to 350.

The next map was from 1898. I found the house on the forth lot from the corner.  The house was a two story, divided frame house, with a one story room on the back and a porch across the front. The house and the small outbuilding behind it (outhouse?) had wood roofs with wooden shingles. The house number is printed in the street in front of the house with the current address, 910, closest to the house and the previous address (164) beneath it in parenthesis.

1898 Map. Red marks 910 Fayette.

Using the number, 164, I went back to the 1887 map. I found a house on the third lot, numbered 162. Next to it was an unnumbered lot. It would have been 164 and it was the fourth lot from the corner. The house I was looking for had not yet been built.

1887 Sanborn Fire map. Red marks the lot where 910 would eventually be built.

Next, I pulled up the 1914 Sanborn map and located 910 Fayette. I noticed that the house was marked as a frame house but with only 1.5 stories.

Red again makes the spot.

But wait, 910 is the third house from the corner on this map instead of the fourth. Looking at the fourth house, more closely, I saw that the number closer to the house was now 914 and the one below it, the old number, was 910! The house I thought was the one my father was born in was not the little blue house, but the larger house next door. Both houses were divided to hold two households.

The former 910, now 914 Fayette.

I found a photograph online at several real estate sites, of the renovated house. It looked like half of that house would be much less crowded for five adults and eventually a baby, than the smaller blue one next door.  In 1905, it rented for $12.50 and had five rooms. My grandfather and his brothers and their families lived there from 1909 to 1912. At that time they spread out to larger quarters.

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Go To this post to read an 1895 article about renumbering and renaming streets in Indianapolis – Why Renumber and Rename Streets?

Reading The Newspaper – 1962

This is the 23rd post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing ChallengeThe photograph for today is a corner of our living room at 5397 Oregon in Detroit. My mother and I are reading the newspaper. I was 16.

reading_the_newspaper_1962It is probably Sunday, because my mother is still in her bathrobe. And who reads the Saturday paper so avidly? I think the bathrobe was light pink, but I’m not sure. The couch was an old one that my mother brought from Sally and Ivy’s mother when we lived on Calvert.  They moved out to Southfield, near the zoo, and bought new furniture. I remember going to visit once and hearing the lions roar.

The couch was old. My mother had a slip cover made. It was blue with a blue design.  I patched it once, in a fit of fix-it-up. It has been a long time since I have read a newspaper offline.  I wonder what we were reading about.

oregon_cornerlivingroomoregon
The couch and more of that corner of the living room. My uncle Henry took the photos.

There was an end table with a lamp and a brass ash tray. Both my mother and Henry smoked. The table had a fake leather top and a big drawer. One of my daughters has that table now. The lamp was white with red flowers and green leaves painted on it. There were gold lines at the top and base. The old television, in a wood cabinet ,was still working.  Later it died and for awhile there was a smaller TV, that worked, sitting on top of it.

The walls were beige. When we moved in, they were covered with wall paper. As soon as she could afford it, my mother had Mrs. Bruce’s brother come and paint it a clean, beige color.  There is no art work above the couch in this photograph. When I graduated from high school and began studying art at Wayne State University, my mother would tack one of my drawings up on the wall. Later on she had me frame them for her, badly. I never could cut the mats right.  You can’t see the rug here but it was a faded wine colored pattern. It was wall to wall and never replaced while we lived there.

My Parents Time in San Francisco – January to July 1, 1944

This is the 23rd post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing ChallengeThe photograph for today is of a corner of the living room in my parents  apartment in San Francisco. It was 1944.

San Francisco Desk
My father’s desk in the San Francisco apartment. Photos of his sisters, Gladys and Barbara on the desk and one of my mother on the bookcase.  This desk looks like one that I have from my mother, but it’s not. I think the apartment was furnished. Surprised the typewriter isn’t visible.

My parents, Albert B. Cleage Jr and Doris Graham, were married in Detroit on November 17, 1943. They left immediately after the ceremony for Lexington, Kentucky, where my father had accepted a call from Chandler Memorial Congregational Church.  They were there only two months when he accepted an interim pastorship at the new, experimental San Francisco Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.  He served from January of 1944 through June of the same year.  The captions under the photographs are taken from what my parents wrote on the back when they sent the pictures back home to their families.

church & house San Francisco
The Church – on the corner. We live upstairs – rear – behind the jungle. (Rubber, Magnolia – Olive, etc.)

church sign- san francisco

doris_2_kids
This is Romeo and Patrick and me – fat jaws and all. June 1944
landscape_mountains
Mountains! Taken out our front window – over the housetops across the street.
downhill
This is Post Street looking toward the Ocean. Looks like you could follow it right on up to Heaven, doesn’t it? June 1944
down_street
Looking down at the “Fillmore slum” from our front window. The lady who bakes cakes for us lives over there –
toddy
Guess who this gangster looking talent is. June 1944.
hanging_clothes_SF_1944
Birds eye view of my mother hanging up clothes in the backyard.

Following is an excerpt from a biography of my father, about his time in San Francisco. I wish I had the box of letters I know existed from those six months.

From Hiley Ward, Prophet of the Black Nation. (Piladelphis: Pilgrim Press, 1969), p. 55.

“Cleage does not remember his work with the famous Fellowship Church of All Peoples with any fondness.  The new congregation, which had about fifty members when he was there, was a contrived, artificial affair, he says.  ‘An Interracial church is a monstrosity and an impossibility,’ he said. ‘The whites who came, came as sort of missionaries.  They wanted to do something meaningful, but this was not really their church. The blacks regarded it as experimental too, or were brainwashed to think that it was something superior.’ He called his white counterpart, Dr. Fisk, ‘well-meaning,’ and said Fisk thought he (Fisk) was doing a great work, but had no understanding of tension and power.  He felt the Lord looked in favor on this work, and any whites that joined him were headed for glory. He hated to have problems mentioned. Problems included the property left deteriorating after the Japanese were moved out, and the boilermakers’ union ‘which set up separate auxiliary units for black so they could discontinue the units after the war.’ Cleage joined in with NAACP efforts to get at these injustices.  He was told he could stay at the Fellowship of All Peoples if he wanted to, and he said ‘they were nice people, but it did not seem to me it was a significant ministry.’ About Fisk, he said, ‘He talked about the glorious fellowship washed in the blood of the Lamb; I talked about hell on the alternate Sundays.  He felt upset about my preaching, but he didn’t want to raise racial tension in his heaven.'”

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You can see a newspaper clipping of my parents and a very short post about their time in San Francisco here Newspaper Clipping of My Parents. Soon after July 1, my parents moved to Los Angeles, where my father studied film making for a year before he was called to pastor St. John’s Congregational Church in Springfield, Massachusetts.

1300 Lafaytte – 1968

19681300lafayette
Pearl standing, me seated, my father. The photographer told us to look in that direction.

This is the 17th post in the February Photo Collage Festival and the Family History Writing Challenge.   The next four  posts will be about some of the places that I lived that I didn’t cover in the Alphabet Challenge last year. Today I am going to remember 1300 Layfette, Detroit. My father, who was still using his name, Rev. A.B. Cleage lived here for a year during 1968-1969. I was a senior at Wayne State University.

In the aftermath of the 1967 riots my father had received many crazy letters, including death threats. Several people involved in the movement had been beaten or shot during this time period. There were also the more well known assassinations that took place.  I remember one sermon when my father announced that if he had heard there was a price on his head and plans to kidnap him and hold him for ransom.  He told the congregation that if he was kidnapped, give them nothing for his return.  Strangely, I don’t remember worrying about this.

The flat on the left was the one my father lived in. The 12th floor is about half way up.
The flat on the left was the one my father lived in. The 12th floor is about half way up.

It was during this time that it was decided that he would move out of his first floor flat on Calvert, that had no security measures, and into the an apartment on the 12th floor of the very secure 1300 Lafayette apartments.

Here is a description written by Hiley H. Ward in his 1969 biography of my father, Prophet of the Black Nation, about the apartment and the atmosphere of the times.

“…He has continued to live alone, until recently in a twelfth-floor panoramic apartment ($360 a month, two bed-room) in the exclusive downtown eastside Lafayette Park overlooking the river, Detroit and Windsor, Canada. His church described his moving there as a security measure… in his immaculate apartment two of three paintings remain unhung after a number of months – not a sign of particular interest in the place.”

Several things I remember:

  • My father leaving my sister and me standing out in the hall while he went through the apartment with a drawn gun to make sure nobody was there.
  • The picture above being taken by a Detroit Free Press photographer for an article they were doing about my sister Pearl’s poetry for the Sunday magazine, Parade.
  • The time I spent a week with him while my mother and Henry went out of town. He went over to his mother’s house on Atkinson for dinner every night. I decided to just fix myself dinner. I did, but I left the tea kettle on and forgot about it. It melted on the burner. I still have a lump of the remains.  During this visit I was instructed to give no one the phone number or the address.

    aluminum_lump
    All that remained of the tea kettle.
  • Watching the 4th of July fireworks.

I was trying to reconstruct the layout of the apartment from memory when I decided to look online.  Currently the same apartments are in use as co-op apartments and I was able to find the layout and placement at the website for the current cooperative apartments.

1300_apt_sixAt the same time that my father was living here, The Black Star Co-op  being developed.

Playing Poker at Old Plank – 1962 – Sepia Saturday #115

Playing poker – my aunt Gladys with cigarette, me, my uncle Hugh, cousins Jan and Dale, my mother.
Still playing poker – my mother with glasses, cousin Warren, cousin Ernie, aunt Gladys, cousin Jan and cousin Dale.
The house on Old Plank Road. Between Milford and Wixom Michigan.

My mother and Henry bought this house about half an hour from Detroit about 1961.  There was talk of moving there year around, but it never happened. We had a large garden and went up on weekends and for longer periods during the summer. We only owned 2 acres of the 40 acre farm, not including the barn. In 1967 someone bought the barn and started keeping chickens and pigs there,  though they didn’t live on or near the property. The animals regularly escaped.  The pigs dug up our garden and the chickens roosted on the porch. Before Henry and the man came to blows, they finally sold the house to the man with the animals.

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