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Couple opens house that has ties to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the public for MLK day

David Manaute and Patti Berry took on the responsibility of preserving the rich history inside their new home.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's ties to the First Coast is a reason why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 exists.

He was supposed to visit someone in St. Augustine. However, word got out and segregationists vandalized the house. In fact, it was shot at and set fire on multiple occasions.

Last year, a couple took on the responsibility of preserving the Canright House's rich history. It They bought the house and began remodeling it. For Martin Luther King Day, they opened it to the public. 

If the walls could talk, it would share how its experienced: the good, the bad and ugly. It would showcase the bullet that's still lodged in the sliding door in the living room. The hardwood floors has scars from the firebombing. Windows were shattered and racist graffiti was on the walls. 

David Manaute and Patti Berry are the new homeowners. They found an old scrapbook. In it, pictures of when the previous homeowners cleaned up the debris and damages. 

One picture showcases a wall and the graffiti reads "the South's going to rise again." Another shows a bedroom that was riddled with bullet holes. The vandals circled the holes and wrote "these are actual bullets". 

"We bought it [the Canright House] last year in the fall," Berry said. "We've been working on it since then." 

The same feeling the couple got while touching history, they wanted the public to experience it too. For MLK Day, they opened their home to the public. To Manaute, the Canright House is a reminder of how far society has come.

"Visiting these kind of sights makes you remember the difference between right and wrong and we can't let people forget the past," Manaute added. 

The civil rights icon himself, Dr. King, was in the house. It is an experience no one can take away from the visitors. Many described the visit as "surreal" and "emotional". Eunice Hayes expressed her gratitude to Dr. King after visiting. 

"I appreciate who I am. I appreciate what he [Dr. King] did. I appreciate his sacrifice," Hayes said. 

The new homeowners told First Coast News they will open their home to the public annually on MLK Day. They said a little more than two dozen visitors showed up. 

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