Dr. Ossian H. Sweet House, photo 1984
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Sweet, Ossian H., House
2905 Garland, Detroit - Wayne County
Other Names Ossian H. Sweet House
Property Type frame house
Historic Use DOMESTIC/single dwelling
Current Use DOMESTIC/single dwelling
Style Bungalow/Craftsman
Architect/Builder Maurice Finkel
Significant Person Ossian H. Sweet
Narrative Description The Dr. Ossian H. Sweet House in Detroit is a one-and-one-half story, flank-gable, red brick, Bungaloid-style structure, sited on a full basement. Features include a first-story open porch with extended eaves supported by square brick piers topped by cement caps, and an enclosed south-facing sun porch. The second story has brown stained wooden shingling, and features a simple gable roof with plain eaves sheltering a projecting central, triple-light dormer. The house is enclosed by an unpainted silver aluminum fence.
Statement of Significance The Dr. Ossian H. Sweet House has historical significance as the site of a tragic racial incident and its subsequent nationally publicized trial, as well as its association with the famous African-American physician Ossian H. Sweet. During an evening in 1925 while attempting to move into their newly purchased house, the Sweets and nine associates were attacked by a racist mob. A neighbor named Leon Breiner was murdered and Dr. Sweet and associates were charged and tried for the crime. Renowned attorney Clarence Darrow defended Dr. Sweet and Detroit Recorders Court Judge Frank Murphy (later Governor of Michigan and Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) presided over the trial. After rancorous deliberation, a mistrial was declared and Dr. Sweet was released. Dr. Sweet returned home soon after the trial and lived at the house until 1944.
Marker Name Ossian Sweet
Marker Text OSSIAN SWEET In 1925 during an era of hostility towards Negroes and foreigners, Dr. Ossian Sweet, a black physician, moved into this formerly all-white neighborhood. As soon as he assumed occupancy, an angry rock-throwing crowd mached on the residence. When shots were fired from the Sweet house and the police responded with gunfire, a neighborhood man was killed. Police arrested all eleven of the Sweet family members and friends who were in the house at the time and charged them with murder. Responding to pleas from officials of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, eminent criminal lawyer Clarence Darrow defended the eleven persons by attempting to show that they acted in self-defense. The jury was unable to reach a verdict. In a second trial, only Ossian's brother, Henry Sweet, was tried and was found innocent. This landmark case advanced the principle of black self-defense.
Period of Significance 1901-1930
Significant Date(s) 1925
Built 1919
Registry Type(s) 04/04/1985 National Register listed
11/21/1975 State Register listed
Site ID# P25258