7122 Tuxedo. Four decades ago, it was the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson. In 2012, he returned to find it like thousands of other blighted and abandoned homes in Detroit.
But thanks to an idea, a whole lot of grit, the generosity the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and a partnership between Henderson, a few of his former classmates from University of Detroit Jesuit High School, and Marygrove College, the Tuxedo Project was born.
Henderson has noted that Marygrove’s commitment to the city and to fostering urban leadership were what initially drew him to the institution. "Marygrove was a natural pick for the project, not just because it's close by, but because of the interest the college has already shown in Detroit neighborhoods, artistic and literary excellence, and revitalization. And the excitement of the administrators and faculty about the Tuxedo Project only confirmed that Marygrove was the right fit. I couldn't ask for a better partner."
The idea behind the Project was both humble and ambitious: One house. One block. One neighborhood.
To start, the collective would renovate the house at 7122 Tuxedo, transforming it into a writer’s residence and community literary center; then they would move house by house up and down the block, renovating each property until the entire neighborhood was transformed.
Work on 7122 Tuxedo began in 2015 and was, to a great extent, made possible thanks to a $150,000 grant the Knight Foundation awarded to Marygrove College. Chosen from over 1,000 applicants and 70 finalists, Marygrove received this grant as a part of the 2015 Knight Arts Challenge, a $9 million initiative to draw the best and most innovative ideas out of local organizations and individuals seeking to engage and enrich the community through the arts.
“Only a couple years ago, there was very little interest in Northwest Detroit,” says Marygrove College President Elizabeth Burns. “People were certainly talking about Midtown and New Center, but the area surrounding 7122 Tuxedo was not a part of the conversation. The grant awarded to us by the Knight Foundation gave us capital we needed to show others what needs to happen if we are serious about revitalizing the entire city of Detroit.
Two years later, coinciding with the completed renovations at 7122 Tuxedo, Marygrove College named Rose Gorman the inaugural Tuxedo Project Residential Fellow. Gorman, a former program director at the New York Writers Coalition, lives at the house, oversees the writer’s residence program and literary center, and provides outreach and resources to the community.
The Tuxedo Project Literary center opened its doors in September 2017. In addition to hosting workshops, book readings, and author visits, the center also provides space for meetings and other community activities on the 7100 block of Tuxedo.
For more information about the Tuxedo Project, click here.
ABOUT THE JOHN S. AND JAMES L. KNIGHT FOUNDATION
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is a private, non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. Since 1950, the foundation has invested more than $841 million in civic innovators who help cities attract and keep talented people, expand economic opportunity, and create a culture of engagement.
ABOUT STEPHEN HENDERSON
A native of Detroit, Pulitzer Price-winning journalist Stephen Henderson is a graduate of University of Detroit High School and the University of Michigan. In addition to hosting two talk shows, “Detroit Today” on WDET and “American Black Journal” on Detroit Public Television, Henderson co-hosts the news show "MiWeek" on Detroit Public Television, and is a correspondent for WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) in Detroit. In 2014 he won both the Pulitzer Prize for commentary and the National Association of Black Journalists’ Journalist of the Year Award for his writing on Detroit's financial crisis.
ABOUT ROSE GORMAN
Gorman has served as Community Engagement Manager for the national oral history organization StoryCorps and as Program Director at the NY Writers Coalition, a community-based writing organization dedicated to working with underserved populations: youth, seniors, women, the LGBTQ community, those who have been incarcerated, homeless individuals, and immigrants. She holds a Master of Arts degree in literature with a concentration in creative writing from Binghamton University, State University of New York (SUNY), and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from St. John’s University.