Making a Difference

Annie S. Harris

Annie S. Harris

Credit: Jonathan Allain

In the 1960s, when Annie S. Harris was a college student in Tallahassee, Fla., she loved spending time in the bustling Frenchtown neighborhood, a center for African American culture. "There were teachers, doctors, restaurants," says Harris. "It was thriving." But when she returned to Frenchtown after 12 years away, everything had changed. High crime had left many early-20th-century buildings in disrepair, and the neighborhood's fine vernacular residences were being razed. Harris, who calls herself "a real nut for history," decided to do what she could to save the neighborhood. In 2000, she began purchasing and restoring historic houses in Frenchtown, including the one shown here, which she transformed into a gallery selling work by local artists. In 2006, Harris left her upscale Tallahassee neighborhood and moved to the heart of Frenchtown. Harris is confident about her new neighborhood's future, and encourages others to give it a chance. Without a doubt, she says, "it is on its way back." 

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