Pauli Murray House

By November 5, 2018 No Comments
Pauli Murray House

The Pauli Murray Family Home in Durham, NC, is now officially a National Historic Landmark (NHL) as well as a National Trust for Historic Preservation National Treasure. Landmark, Treasure — it is both.

NHL status is granted only to sites associated with very special Americans. Pauli Murray (1910-1985) was one such person. The best word is multifaceted, a diamond who shone in so many directions it’s difficult to single one or two out. She was a lawyer, legal theorist, theologian, feminist/womanist, activist, poet, priest, professor, etc. with determination, intellect, and grit which she needed given the immense barriers put in her way. Pauli Murray died over thirty years ago. Her story challenges all of us to live our values with a strong integrity — as she did.

Murray, repeatedly thwarted for her race and her gender, experimented with non-violent direct action and various gender identities.

She led a peripatetic life, moving her worldly goods in her car, and living many places making her Durham family home her genuine one. Her grandparents raised her there in a fiercely proud and religious home. Towards the end of her life, she realized she had a call to the priesthood, then being hotly debated within the Episcopal Church. She went to seminary and in 1977 became one of the early women priests and the first African American woman ordained an Episcopal priest.

Pauli Murray’s life and work is exceptionally important as she served as a bridge figure between various American social movements through her advocacy for women’s and civil rights.

Photo: During and After Work Pauli Murray Family House, Compliments Barbara Lau

The NHL nomination process was a partnership among the NCWHS, the Pauli Murray Center, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Under our cooperative agreement with the National Park Service, NCWHS received funding to complete three NHL nominations. We especially want to acknowledge the work of Karen Nickless of the National Trust and Barbara Lau of the Pauli Murray Center for their hard work. In preparing the NHL, we identified allies for the site and strengthened its long term support.

There will be a formal celebration in Durham in the spring— Y’all come join our delight!

For more information, see the NHL nomination at

—Heather Huyck