Montgomery in Montgomery County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)
Lower Dexter Park
History Happened Here
The City of Montgomery built this public park on one of the lots occupied by the Montgomery Fair Department Store. Rosa Parks was an assistant to the tailor for Montgomery Fair. On December 1, 1955, Mrs. Parks left her seamstress work, boarded a city bus and helped set in motion events that would undo segregation in the South and uplift human rights for people all around the world.
Montgomery Fair began operations in 1868 as Pollack's Dollar Store at Perry Street and Dexter Avenue. A new four-story flagship store opened in 1907 and become a regional shopping destination. It had entrances on Court Street (Photo 1), Monroe Street (2), and Dexter Avenue (5) as documented by The Department Store Museum In the Dexter Avenue '"Arcade" shoppers could find cosmetics, gloves, leather goods, hosiery, umbrellas, silverware, records and Teen Town departments (3). The annual holiday decorations and parades were festive. Photo 4 is of a Christmas Parade in 1967.
The façade was updated in the 1940s with distinctive white and blue vitrolite (a pigmented, structural glass) and large glass blocks indicative of the art-deco style of architecture popular during the early 20th century.
Montgomery Fair closed downtown operations in the late 1960s
Rosa Parks Worked at Montgomery Fair
During Rosa Parks' life, segregation in the South was rigidly enforced by law and custom, including at the Montgomery Fair where she worked between 1954 and 1956. While the Alterations Department was on the upper floors of 29 Dexter Avenue, she sewed in the basement level. Mrs. Parks' commitment to stand against the injustice of segregation was galvanized here. Two extraordinary notes that she wrote on Montgomery Fair stationery, now housed at the Library of Congress, document the indignities of living and working in segregated conditions. Mrs. Parks also recorded details to support the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the lawsuits that would ultimately end segregated public transit.
Mrs. Parks' story is stitched into the making of this
Vision For A New Urban Park
The renovation of adjacent Dexter Avenue buildings presented an opportunity to create Lower Dexter Park and to preserve and celebrate a piece of Montgomery's history. The salvaged vitrolite tile and glass block façade provides a gateway to this special public park designed to enhance civic life and dialogue across differences. The floating deck is built with sustainable materials and planted with native grasses. This pocket park opened in 2018, creating an intimate community space for downtown residents, workers and visitors. Seating and lighting throughout the park provide a special place to mingle, read and even perhaps reflect on the history of Montgomery and Dexter Avenue.
"Everyone living together in peace and harmony
and love... that's the goal we seek, and I think
that the more people
there are who reach that state of mind,
the better we will all be."
- Rosa Parks Rosa Parks: My Story, with Jim Haskin, 1992
Erected 2018 by the City of Montgomery, Alabama.
Location. 32° 22.656′ N, 86° 18.5′ W. Marker is in Montgomery, Alabama, in Montgomery County. Marker is on Dexter Avenue east of Court Square, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 29 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery AL 36104, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Telegram Which Began War Between The States / Winter Building (within shouting distance of this marker); The Lightning Route / Central Bank Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Rosa Louise McCauley Parks / The Bus Stop (within shouting distance of this marker); Here Stood Mrs. Rosa Parks (within shouting distance of this marker); An Intersection of History: Court Square (within shouting distance of this marker); Decorative Lions Heads (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); City of Montgomery / Court Square (about 300 feet away); Court Square Fountain (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Montgomery.
Also see . . . City of Montgomery article on the Lower Dexter Park opening and dedication. (Submitted on August 10, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • Civil Rights • Notable Buildings • Parks & Recreational Areas • Women •
Credits. This page was last revised on August 10, 2018. This page originally submitted on August 10, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 50 times since then and 3 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 10, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.