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You can tour Rosa Parks' room at the quirky O Street Mansion in DC

The Civil Rights icon lived at the DuPont Circle museum for 10 years and formed a deep friendship with the founder.

WASHINGTON — The O Museum in the Mansion is filled with even more treasures than meet the eye -- a Civil Rights icon once lived there -- and you can tour her room.

From the outside, The Mansion on O Street Northwest looks like a typical D.C. row house in DuPont Circle. Inside, however, is a treasure trove.

"Because they're donated, they’re very eclectic, they’re very joyish," founder H. Leonards said about the collection she's amassed. "You can feel the people that give them to us, which is why the house is so positive.”

H. Leonards said she bought the mansion in 1980 and gradually redesigned it into an "I Spy"-like museum and inn.

“I started with no money, no business background, no art background, no design background, so I am an example of what you can do with nothing," she said.

Throughout the museum, visitors can discover more than 70 secret doors scattered throughout, which Leonards said is kind of a metaphor for searching within yourself.

One of her greatest treasures stayed hidden beyond one of the doors for 10 years -- Mrs. Rosa Parks.

Leonards said they took her in after Parks was attacked in her Detroit home in 1994.

“She was so severely assaulted that her pacemaker was dislodged. She refused to ever go back into her home again in Detroit. And didn't have the money to go to a hotel in Detroit," she said. "Someone from her team had heard we gave away free rooms…so they called me."

Days later, Parks flew to D.C. to stay at the mansion.

"In the mornings, I would get to come in and braid her hair, or comb her hair," Leonards said, showing off Parks' room, which she has left mostly untouched. "And she had very long hair, and she never cut it. And it was wrapped like a halo around her head.”

A lasting friendship grew, and the two spent much of their time hand-in-hand.

“You felt what she was feeling through her hands. She was such a powerful woman, and life-changing," Leonards said. "So when she would shake hands with you, you could feel her love. And it would change your life. And there are very few people in your life that can do that. She did.”

Their connection earned the O Museum in the Mansion a marker on the African American Heritage Trail in 2019.

“I was honored for Mrs. Parks," she said.

Leonards continues to honor her legacy in their once-shared home, even writing a book to chronicle her time with Parks.

For those who want to learn more about Mrs. Rosa Parks, Leonards says, "Just come and feel her. I think you will. It's remarkable."

Leonards said one of the biggest lessons she learned from Parks is to seize the moment, whether that be to secure a meeting with the Pope or enjoying the surprises that pop up behind secret doors.

You can tour Mrs. Rosa Parks' room -- and the rest of the museum now. You can even stay overnight at the mansion in one of the eclectic rooms.

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