This beach cottage attracted international attention in 1964, and a photograph taken here of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pointing to a bullet hole in the window has become one of the iconic images of the civil rights movement. It was the winter home of Dr. Cyril M. Canright (1894-1965) and his wife Winifred (1898-1995), who taught as missionaries in China in the 1920s and 1930s and later made their home in New Jersey. They were supporters of the civil rights movement. They made their beach house available to Dr. King when he came here with his Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) at the urging of Dr. Robert B. Hayling and the St. Augustine movement in May 1964. The mass campaign led to the passage of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964.
SCLC staffers Dorothy Cotton, Rev. C.T. Vivian, and Harry Boyte visited or stayed here, but Dr. King had not yet spent a night in the house when the local newspaper ran directions to it on the front page, and segregationists attacked it. They shot up the house on May 28, 1964, and then attempted to burn it on May 30. On June 8, they smashed the windows and furniture, painted racist graffiti inside, and firebombed it. All of these events were widely reported around the country, and increased public pressure to do away with racial segregation.
Dr. Canright passed away the next year, but Mrs. Canright continued up into her 90s to work for prison reform and other causes in New Jersey. She was honored there by the naming of the Winifred Canright House in Asbury Park, which provides housing for people with HIV/AIDS who might otherwise be homeless.
Gay and Kathleen Welborn from Gainesville, Florida, put the heavily damaged house back into livable condition. They made their home here while running businesses on St. George Street in downtown St. Augustine. Mrs. Welborn was also a nurse at Flagler Hospital. When she passed away in 2009 at the age of 93, she was the senior member of the local Altrusa Club.
This house has been featured, as a civil rights landmark, in newspaper stories, books, television programs, and in Clennon King's 2004 movie "Slave Market Diary."