Exploring the Chase Building Archive




Thompson, Jeremy

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Texas Digital Library


The John S. and Drucie R. Chase Building Archive is the product of a collaboration between the Black Diaspora Archive (BDA) and the Center for Community Engagement (CCE). The Chase Building Archive tells the story of when the Black Community in Austin was herded into East Austin and the community that grew during this time. The collection consists of nine oral histories from community members that grew up during this period and can attest to the history of Black East Austin. The oral histories and curated vignettes held in this collection bear witness to the schools, businesses, churches, and other institutions that the community established during this time.

One building that was established during this time, and serves as a focal point of the collection, is the Chase Building. The building at 1191 Navasota Street was designed by John. S. Chase, the first African American to graduate from UT’s School of Architecture and become a licensed architect in the state of Texas, to serve as the headquarters for the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas. The building would have a tenure as the House of Elegance before being renovated and now serves as the base for CCE. Documenting the history of this building and those who lived in Black East Austin helps us understand how the Black spaces that we benefit from come to be and what is lost with their diminishing presence.