Historic Markers Across Alabama

Harris House

Marker ID: AHC 
Location: on South Jackson Street, Montgomery, Alabama
County: Montgomery
Coordinates: N 32° 22.409    W 086° 17.786
  32.37348333    -86.29643333
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Side 1:
This house, originally constructed at the turn of the century, was the home of Dr. Richard H. Harris, Jr. (1918 - 1976), the grandson of John W. Jones, an Alabama state senator during Reconstruction. Harris was a captain with the famed 99th Squadron Tuskegee Airmen during World War II. A registered pharmacist, he operated Dean Drug Store, Montgomery's oldest black drug store, established by his father in 1907. The store was located at 147 Monroe Street in the historically black business district listed to the National Register of Historic Places before being demolished in the 1980s. During the 1955-56 Montgomery Bus Boycott, Dean Drug Store served as a command center where Dr. Harris played critical roles in communication and transportation. Wearing a headset, he simultaneously dispatched vehicles while filling prescriptions. Dean Drug Store served as a secure meeting place during that turbulent time.

Side 2:
Between May 20-24, 1961, Dr. Harris opened this home to a group of 33 students from Nashville, Tennessee, who were challenging interstate bus segregation. Known as the Freedom Riders, the group was attacked at the historic Montgomery Greyhound Bus Station upon arrival and harassed by rioters. In the days following the attack, martial law was declared and Harris' home served as a haven for the Freedom Riders. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr. Ralph D. Abernathy, James Farmer, John Lewis, Diane Nash, and others met at the Harris House to develop plans and strategy for continuing the rides. On March 24, after solemn prayer, the Freedom Riders were escorted by the National Guard to the Greyhound Bus Station and continued on with their mission to Jackson, Mississippi.

In March 1965, Dr. Harris assisted local black doctors on the grounds of St. Jude's Hospital with medical care of the participants of the historic Selma-to-Montgomery Voting Rights March.

In 1992, the house was listed to the Alabama Register of Historic Places as a contributing property of the Centennial Hill Historic District.

Erected by Alabama Historic Commission

End of Harris House