Dr. Alexander Turnerís home on Warren became infamous in 1992 after a man named Malice Green, pictured on the front of the home, was beaten by police officers and later died. (Dale Rich / Special to The Detroit News)
In the 1920s, Dr. Alexander Turner was one of the most prominent black doctors in Detroit.
A successful practitioner and surgeon, Turner co-founded Dunbar Memorial Hospital in 1918. The 27-bed hospital had an operating room and catered to Detroit's black community.
Widely respected, Turner moved easily between Detroit's black and white worlds. He held appointments at two white hospitals that barred most black doctors. He owned a chain of pharmacies and operated two private offices, and his clientele was 75 percent white.
But none of that mattered when the doctor moved his family into a house on Spokane Avenue, in an all-white neighborhood on the city's west side.
On June 23, 1925, as Turner, his wife and mother-in-law were moving into their new home, they were greeted by members of the Tireman Avenue Improvement Association — thousands of people carrying rocks, potatoes and garbage, news reports said.
At the time, the neighborhood was off-limits to blacks. And it was common practice for mobs of whites to keep blacks from integrating neighborhoods, said Charles Ransom, a reference librarian at the Graduate Library at the University of Michigan.
The Turners had only been in the home five hours when the group attacked.
At gunpoint, two men forced Turner to sign his deed over to them and, with the help of the police, had the Turner family escorted out of the house.
The family returned to Turner's Warren Avenue home, which contained one of the doctor's two offices, several bedrooms and a five-car garage. Turner later moved to Ohio, where he died in 1944.
Ransom said the Turner incident foreshadowed another later involving his friend, another black doctor.
Dr. Ossian Sweet, a surgeon, wanted a better home for his wife and daughter.
A few months after the Turner incident, Sweet moved his family into a house on Garland Street, another all-white neighborhood.
But when a mob of whites tried to force Sweet and his family out, the family fought back.
A fracas ensued and shots were fired. In the end, one white neighbor was killed, another was injured, and Sweet's brother was on trial for the murder.
The Turner home, which became a drug den, would be in the headlines again.
On Nov. 5, 1992, Detroit resident Malice Green was beaten outside by two Detroit police officers. Green died of his injuries.
Today, the house appears abandoned. The pale green faÁade is crumbling; the windows are busted, and the lawn is littered with old furniture and garbage.
Annual memorials are held in front of the house, where a shrine to Green is painted.
"The house should be saved since it has that kind of history," said Edward Vaughn, a former Detroiter and state representative. "It's worthy of remembering because of what happened."