“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Montgomery in Montgomery County, Alabama — The American South (East South Central)

Lower Dexter Park

Lower Dexter Park Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 10, 2018
1. Lower Dexter Park Marker
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
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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 as shopping centers across America were relocating to suburban malls. The Court Street section burned down in 1984, leaving behind the two damaged annex buildings The City of Montgomery purchased many historic buildings on Dexter Avenue to help stimulate private rehabilitations. Unfortunately, what remained of the Montgomery Fair at 29 Dexter Avenue was deemed structurally unsound. From this setback, the opportunity would emerge to make a new City park and to re-use carefully salvaged materials from the distinctive façade (Photos 6 and 7, 2014).

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
The white vitrolite tile and glass block façade can be seen and the marker. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 10, 2018
2. The white vitrolite tile and glass block façade can be seen and the marker.
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 public space. The City of Montgomery hopes this unique park will provide new opportunities to celebrate Mrs. Parks' life work and wishes.

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
Lower Dexter Park, former store location. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 10, 2018
3. Lower Dexter Park, former store location.
Jim Haskin, 1992

Erected 2018 by the City of Montgomery, Alabama.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Civil RightsNotable BuildingsParks & Recreational AreasWomen. A significant historical date for this entry is December 1, 1955.
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. Touch for directions.
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); Rosa Parks Statue (within shouting distance of this marker); Rosa Louise McCauley Parks / The Bus Stop (within shouting distance of this marker); A Tale of Two Towns (within shouting distance of this marker); Here Stood Mrs. Rosa Parks (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.
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 10, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 385 times since then and 14 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 10, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Feb. 20, 2024