Maritcha Lyons Way

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Background Information

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Maritcha Lyons was born at 144 Centre Street in New York City, the

third of five children of Albro Lyons Sr. and Mary Joseph Lyons. Her father was a graduate of the first African Free School in Manhattan, New York. The Lyons family lived in New York City's free Black community and were active members of the Free African Church of St. Philip in Five Points.

Lyons' parents operated a seamen's home and seamen's outfitting store that served also as a cover for the family's Underground Railroad activities. Though she was very ill as a child, Maritcha was eager to acquire an education. She wrote of herself that she developed a "love of study for study’s sake." Lyons attended Manhattan's Colored School No. 3, under the direction of Charles Reason, a former educator at Philadelphia's Institute for Colored Youth.

 

The Lyons' home on Vandewater Street was attacked several times

during the New York City Draft Riots of July 1863. Lyons was a

teenager at the time. She fled with her family to Salem,

Massachusetts, for a short time before returning to Brooklyn. Because

of the ongoing danger, her parents sent the children to Providence,

Rhode Island. (On B Street, where Codding Court now stands)

In 1865, Lyons was refused entry to the high school in Providence

because she was Black. The state had no high school for Black children. The family successfully sued the state of Rhode Island in a campaign to bring an end to segregated schools. At the age of 16, she testified before the state legislature, "plead[ing] for the opening of the door of opportunity". Lyons later became the first Black student to graduate from Providence High School.

Background Info

In the 1960s, the Providence Redevelopment Authority demolished the Hoyle Square neighborhood, near the site Maritcha's former home once stood.

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Before Demolition

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Before Demolition

After Demolition

Project Goals

Before Demolition

Coming Soon!

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  • Reconnect the area surrounding Doyle square by building a new pedestrian/cyclist path between Pearl Street and Urban Greens

  • Commemorate the area's history by calling the new path "Maritcha Remond Lyons Way"