Long before the Broad Street Project of the early ‘50s and final relocation of City Hall to this site, 211 W. Vine St. served another role in the community. Around 1891, freed slave and grocery store owner King Ganaway had a house built here for his family that would become a center for the community and the childhood home of King Daniel Ganaway, his son and remarkable photographer.
King Daniel, named for his father and grandfather, was born October 27, 1884. From a young age, he was interested in religion, nudging him towards Chicago after high school graduation in 1902. Once there, he became involved in John Dowie’s evangelical movement and came across Pauline Barrew, who soon became his wife and mother of their only child, Lucille.
Though Ganaway began working as a butler for the well-to-do Mary Lawrence, he used his almost nonexistent spare time to develop— pun intended— photography skills. This hard work and perseverance paid off when he finally snapped a shot entitled “The Spirit of Transportation” that won the Wanamaker’s Department Store National Photographic Contest, which skyrocketed him to success as a freelance photographer for the Chicago Daily News, National Geographic, and many other publications. Typically, he captured industrial life and was eventually hired by the Chicago Bee in 1925. That same year, an interview with Ganaway appeared in The American Magazine in which he discussed his humble beginnings, the African American community of Murfreesboro at the turn of the century.
Hattie Murfree Ganaway, King Daniel’s mother, “was the friend and adviser of the whole neighborhood.” He mentions how theirs was the only piano around, they had plenty of books, and his mother’s willingness to open her house as “the center of every gathering” for those in need taught him that there is “value and worth in every human being, no matter how low and insignificant.”
Ganaway would eventually become a Bible teacher before he died, quietly and on his own, in 1944. King Daniel Ganaway’s descendants, Brenda and Tim Fredericks, only in the past twenty years discovered their relation to Ganaway and have exhibited his same spirit of determination in uncovering and sharing his legacy with as much of their family and the world as possible.