On December 8, 2020, we celebrated my dad’s 81st birthday. What a blessing it is to write this story about the accomplishments he has achieved and his impact on our community.
You know in every family, there is always more to the story, and you need more time to tell it. Well, this is that time. I am so amazed to learn the history of how my dad, Fred Danage, Jr., turned to entrepreneurship and remained in business for years. He worked for Metropolitan Realty as a realtor near Vermans Furniture located on Adams street. Being the first black realtor in Peoria was not easy, but it was rewarding. He would find lots for families to build their homes, needing only $200 down. Houses then only cost $18,000 to build and were under the Urban Renewal program. This gave my dad the opportunity to help others in the community on the South end. I look at my youngest son, who wants to help families with affordable housing and start his own business. This mindset is how my grandfather and dad started by owning properties, renting them out, and building homes.
Dad had worked with my grandfather, Fred Danage, Sr., an all-around contractor skilled in many trades such as masonry, plumbing, and carpentry. He was also the owner of Danage Hardware. He taught my dad a lot about the construction business. I owe my understanding of construction to my grandfather and dad. I learned how to install a window in a house we rented from my grandfather, watched concrete be poured at our family home on Third street, and helped my dad install paneling in our basement. Well, I guess holding the paneling was a big job back then. The apple does not fall far from the tree. My oldest son, Andrew Jr., would hang out with my grandfather at his hardware store on Hurlburt and Webster when he was a little boy. Today, he is HVAC certified, can do plumbing, painting, and renovate homes.
Dad started Fred M. Danage Enterprise in the ’70s. This was the beginning of his business career. He built prefab homes that are still standing to date. He was the first black General Contractor in Peoria. My dad made an impact by building over 200 homes in the city of Peoria.
In the next issue, I will talk about two businesses that my dad owned that may ring a bell with some Peorians and discuss the impact of black businesses in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. We will look at the face of black business and how our children can learn from the history of parents and their parents to create a legacy and tell the story.