In April 1848, abolitionist Frederick Douglass purchased his first home in Rochester at 4 Alexander Street, about 150 feet south-southwest of what was then Main Street (currently East Avenue). A later street renumbering also exchanged the odd and even sides of the street, so the site now bears the address 297 Alexander Street.
Douglass purchased the house from an antislavery activist, jeweler John Kedzie. The sale was engineered by Joseph Marsh, publisher of an Adventist newspaper whose offices were in the Talman Block, where Douglass edited his antislavery newspapers. The homeowners on either side were fellow abolitionists who welcomed Douglass as a neighbor; other residents of the block protested an African American moving into their "aspiring" suburban neighborhood.
The Douglass family resided here until 1852, when they moved to a rural homesite that could better accommodate fugitive slaves traveling toward Canada on the Underground Railroad. The urban home was razed at an unknown date.
Rochester's history of street-number changes is murky. For some years, this site placed Douglass's urban residence site on the other side of Alexander Street, on or very near the corner of East Avenue. It was belatedly discovered that in 2010, the Landmark Society of Western New York had determined that 297 Alexander was the address corresponding to the location of the Douglass residence. The site now reflects that positioning.