What Once Was Austin

46 results

1. Harlem Theater

Longtime Austinites, Sam Alexander and Pearl Cox, talk on the importance of the black-owned Harlem Theater to the youth of color in East Austin and the potential future of the Harlem Theater.

Location: 1800 E 12th Steet Austin, TX 78702

2. 12th and Chicon

To share local historical knowledge of 12th & Chicon, E4 Creative Mentor Jorge Ramirez interviewed Executive Director of Six Square Nerfertitti Jackmon and longtime Austinite Pearl Cox.

Location: 1819 12th/Chicon Austin, TX 78702

3. Victory Grill – Harold McMillan

To share an oral history of the Victory Grill, E4 Creative Mentors Jadzia Padilla, Jennifer Chavez, and Karina Mata interviewed Harold McMillan.

Location: 1104 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

4. Doris Miller Auditorium

For a detailed history of the Doris Miller Auditorium, ADHP member Darnell Wilson interviewed the City of Austin’s Program Manager, Kim McKnight, and Program Coordinator and Historian, Sarah Marshall.

Location: 2300 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702

5. L. C. Anderson High School

L. C. Anderson High School first opened its doors in 1889 on the corner of San Marcos and East 11th Street and became Austin’s only African American high school. Although it moved locations multiple times, L.C. Anderson served black students until 1971, when it was shut down as part of desegregation efforts.  

Location: 900 Thompson St, Austin, TX 78702

6. Pflugerville Colored Addition

The Pflugerville Colored Addition is a community located on Farm Road 1825 in West Pflugerville. In 1910, Black workers that worked in the Pflugerville cotton industry and ice factory weren’t allowed to move to Pflugerville or live in city limits. In response to this, La Rue Norton, a farmer who owned 1200 acres of land […]

Location: Farm to Market Rd 1825, Texas 78660

7. Huston-Tillotson University

Tillotson College (1875) and Sam Huston College (1878) were established as private institutions to provide Black people with formal education. For most, this would be the first time they learned to read and write. The two institutions shared friendly competition through sports and corresponding core values. After being met with a financial burden, the institutions […]

Location: 900 Chicon St, Austin, TX 78702

8. Rosewood Park

For a detailed history of Rosewood Park, ADHP member Darnell Wilson interviewed the City of Austin’s Program Manager, Kim McKnight, and Program Coordinator and Historian, Sarah Marshall.

Location: 2300 Rosewood Ave, Austin, TX 78702

9. Waterloo Greenway

For a detailed history of Waterloo Greenway, ADHP member Darnell Wilson interviewed the Conservancy’s Community Engagement and Government Relations Director, Melissa Ayala.

Location: 500 E 12th St, Austin, TX 78701

10. Oakwood Cemetery

The Oakwood Cemetery is Austin’s oldest cemetery and is home to Austin’s founding population. The cemetery is divided into 4 quarters and stands near the heart of downtown Austin. The cemetery symbolizes the diverse cultures present in Austin in its founding years as it was the primary cemetery in the city for years. Oakwood cemetery […]

Location: 1601 Navasota St

11. Blackshear Fine Arts Academy: Today and Tomorrow

In this special report, the Austin Digital Heritage Project collaborates with Creative Action to showcase Blackshear Fine Arts Academy, a historical school in East Austin, which is also near Huston-Tillotson University. This school grew from a wooden shack to educate children of newly freed slaves, to a segregated school for Black students, and finally, a […]

Location: 1712 E 11th St

12. Blackshear Fine Arts Academy: Principal Friendly Rice

In this special report, the Austin Digital Heritage Project collaborates with Creative Action to showcase the life and legacy of Mr. Friendly R. Rice, who led this historical school in East Austin between 1931 and 1972 during Austin’s discriminatory laws under Jim Crow. Interviews include alumnae, such as Betty Ussery and Arlene Youngblood, and Vonnye […]

Location: 1712 E 11th St

13. Blackshear Fine Arts Academy: History of Blackshear

From a wooden shack in the 19th century, to a modernized school in the 21st century, the Austin Digital Heritage Project collaborates with Creative Action to provide an abridged history of Blackshear Elementary School, also known as Blackshear Fine Arts Academy.

Location: 1712 E 11th St

14. Jumpolin

Jumpolin is a pinata and party store that captured the hearts and minds of the East Austin community for over 20 years and was owned by the Lejarazu family. In late 2014, the Lejarazus faced harassment from their landlord which unfortunately escalated to Jumpolin’s demolition in February 2015. This story quickly received national attention and […]

Location: 1401 E Cesar Chavez St

15. Leal’s Tires

Originally located at the corner of East Cesar Chavez and Chicon Street, Leal’s Tires boasted bright yellow paint and beautiful murals with homages to Aztec culture. Leal’s was known for having affordable services and working with customers when they didn’t have money to pay in full. Leal’s eventually relocated to far East 7th Street after […]

Location: 1900 E Cesar Chavez

16. Hillside Drugstore

Headed by Ulysses Young, known cordially as Doc Young, the Hillside Drugstore began providing various medicines and remedies to East Austin residents in 1949.  Young relocated his home just behind the phramacy with the intention of continuing his work with the city’s few Black pharamcists. It now stands as a restaurant under the same name, […]

Location: 1209 E 11th St,

17. Dollhouse Barbershop

Roosevelt “Bubba” Stewart cut hair at the Dollhouse Barber Shop on Rosewood Avenue in East Austin. Bubba ran the Dollhouse Barbershop for more than forty years until rising rents and dwindling customers forced him to close. Roosevelt “Bubba” Stewart (1933-2018), East Austin native and lifelong owner of Stewart’s Doll House Barber Shop at 1811 Rosewood […]

Location: 1811 Rosewood Avenue

18. Dawn Henderson – Camden, New Jersey

Director of Research – Village of Wisdom Dawn’s hometown, Camden, New Jersey, holds a special place in her life, as it is where she was born and raised. Despite Camden’s reputation as one of the most impoverished and dangerous cities in the United States, Dawn vividly recalls her formative years spent there. These experiences have […]

Location: 2945 Line St.

19. Ronnette Smith – Clark Atlanta University

CEO – Future Foundation Ronnette is a proud graduate of the HBCU Clark Atlanta University, where she earned a B.A. in Mass Communication/Media Studies. Her alma mater, selected as her meaningful institution, bore witness to Mrs. Smith’s triumphant graduation from a four-year university, even in the face of academic challenges during her high school years. […]

Location: 223 James P.

20. Anthony Barrows – Maverick Square Public Housing

Managing Partner & Founder, Center for Behavioral Design & Social Justice Anthony’s place of significance is the Maverick Square public housing complex in East Boston, MA where he grew up. The area has since been completely redeveloped.     TRANSLATE with x English Arabic Hebrew Polish Bulgarian Hindi Portuguese Catalan Hmong Daw Romanian Chinese Simplified […]

Location: 34 Border St.

21. Corrina Brown – Avenues at Steele Creek

Development Manager – The Beautiful Project Corrina’s choice of her first apartment as her place of significance symbolized her initial taste of independence, devoid of external influences. As time passed, she delved deeper into self-discovery. Within the confines of this space, she mastered the art of cultivating her own community. This period of living alone […]

Location: 13001 Yorkridge Drive

22. Jose Enriquez – John Glenn High School

CEO/Founder – Latinos in Action Jose’s place of significance is John Glenn High School, where he learned to fail and succeed, developing humility and resilience. He overcame his fear of public speaking, gained confidence, and understood the essence of leadership. Through hard training, he honed essential skills, from studying to networking, ultimately boosting his self-assurance. […]

Location: 13520 Shoemaker Ave.

23. Maria Cazares – Wasco, California

Youth Organizer – Dolores Huerta Foundation Maria’s place of significance is Wasco, California, where she grew up witnessing and overcoming inequalities in communities of color. She is a first-generation Mexican-American with a Sociology degree from Fresno State, now working as a youth organizer with the Dolores Huerta Liberated Youth for Empowerment Program. Through her activism, […]

Location: 821 D St.

24. April Inniss – Martha’s Vineyard

Senior Research Associate – James Bell Associates April selected Martha’s Vineyard as her place of significance because it offered her tranquility, cherished memories of relaxation, and a sense of freedom from life’s obligations and responsibilities. Moreover, she envisions this location as an alternate universe where systemic oppression never occurred in American society, and where people […]

Location: Beach Rd.

25. Celeste González de Bustamante – Ambos Nogales (Both Nogales)

Associate Dean for DEI, Moody College of Communication, University of Texas at Austin Dr. González de Bustamante selected Ambos Nogales (Both Nogales)—the twin cities of Nogales, Arizona, in the United States and Nogales, Sonora, in Mexico, separated by the U.S.-Mexico border—as her place of significance. Stemming from her distinguished background in journalism and her experience […]

Location: 249 C. Internacional

26. Priscilla Gutierrez – Ranger Motors

Production Manager – IDENTITY Productions Priscilla Gutierrez speaks passionately about Ranger Motors in Laredo, Texas, as her place of significance. Founded by her grandparents, it’s not just a family business but a cornerstone of her upbringing, where her father taught her invaluable lessons in relationship-building and customer service. These teachings have profoundly shaped her professional […]

Location: 2201 San Dario Ave

27. Blaigne Ayuma – Kenny Dorham’s Backyard

Sound Designer and Composer – Roblox Blaigne Ayuma deeply connected with Kenny Dorham’s Backyard in East Austin, recalls their formative experiences at this iconic venue, which is their chosen place of significance. Initially a site for jazz shows, it evolved into a community hub where they performed, encountered inspiring individuals, and forged meaningful connections, including […]

Location: 1106 E 11th St

28. Jojo (JJ) Mayang – Mills Pond

Program Coordinator, E4 Youth JJ chose Mills Pond, a serene park nestled in the Wells Branch district of Austin, Texas, as his sanctuary. Here, amidst whispers of leaves and gentle caresses of the breeze, he seeks solace, disconnecting from the bustling world to immerse in nature’s tranquility and reconnect with his inner self. Moreover, the […]

Location: 15108 Wells Port Dr

29. Matthew Roman – El Paso High School

Digital Docent – E4 Youth Matthew selected the gym at El Paso High School as his pivotal arena. As a dedicated multisport athlete, he devoted countless hours there, weight training not just to meet benchmarks, but to surpass them – striving to become faster, stronger, and the best competitor possible. The gym, with its echoing […]

Location: 800 E Schuster Ave

30. Darnell (D.K.) Wilson – Capital Plaza

Digital Docent – E4 Youth Darnell chose Capital Plaza, a bustling strip mall in the Windsor Park neighborhood of Austin, Texas, as his landmark of resilience. Back in 2019, this place became an unlikely refuge where he spent nights in his car, a decision dictated by economics more than comfort. Juggling a variety of odd […]

Location: 5451 N Interstate Hwy 35

31. Santa Rita Courts – Presented By Govalle Elementary School

Govalle Elementary School Govalle Elementary is introduces a history of Austin’s Santa Rita Courts. This immersive VR story allows students to virtually walk through the historic grounds, understanding the cultural and historical significance of the city’s first public housing project.

Location: 2341 Corta St

32. Santa Rita Courts – Presented By Widén Elementary School

Widén Elementary School Widén Elementary School is delving into the history of Austin’s Santa Rita Courts through a compelling VR narrative. This immersive experience invites students to step virtually into the heart of the city’s first public housing project. As they explore the historic site, they gain a profound understanding of its cultural and historical […]

Location: 2341 Corta St

33. Pan American Park – Presented By Widén Elementary School

Widén Elementary School Widén Elementary School takes a virtual leap into the rich history of Austin’s Pan American Park through an engaging VR experience. Students are transported into the lush landscapes and vibrant community gatherings of this beloved local landmark. This immersive journey allows them to experience the park’s cultural significance and historical evolution, deepening […]

Location: 2100 East 3rd Street

34. Zavala Elementary – Presented By Widén Elementary School

Widén Elementary School Students at Widén Elementary explore the legacy of Zavala Elementary and the vibrant East Austin neighborhood it serves. As they navigate through interactive historical scenes, students gain a deep understanding of their school’s heritage, fostering a sense of pride and connection to their educational roots and the broader community.

Location: 310 Robert T. Martinez Jr. St

35. Fiesta Gardens – Presented By Perez Elementary School

Perez Elementary School in Austin is embracing technology and local culture with a VR story focused on the city’s vibrant Fiesta Gardens. This immersive virtual experience allows students to explore the iconic lakeside venue, known for its lively community events and beautiful scenery. This innovative approach to education connects history, community, and technology, engaging students […]

Location: 2101 Jesse E. Segovia St

36. Anthony Jackson – Austin Community College, Highland Campus

Anthony Jackson – Graphic Designer/Character Designer, E4 Youth Anthony selected Austin Community College’s Highland campus, recognizing it as the foundational ground where his creative journey began. It was here that he crafted his inaugural logo and brought his first animated characters to life, milestones that paved his path into the realms of digital media, art, […]

Location: 6101 Highland Campus Dr

37. Rhiannon Ferguson – Akins High School, Austin, TX

Rhiannon Ferguson – E4 Youth | LinkedIn Rhiannon reflects on her senior year at Akins High School as a pivotal turning point in her life and creative career. Dealing with social phobia worsened by the return to in-person classes post-COVID, fell into a cycle of depression and nearly dropped out. But being appointed editor-in-chief of […]

Location: 10701 S 1st St,

38. Jason Ford – Moonshine

Jason Ford – Product leader, technologist, entrepreneur, and mentor Jason is the Director of PPC at Growth & Innovation division of Wpromote, a group dedicated to driving accelerated growth and scale for startups, venture backed businesses and challenger brands.   I was a tech geek in high school, but I was also creative, and no […]

Location: 300 Red River

39. Suresh Sundarababu – Coimbatore, India

Suresh Sundarababu – Director, Board Advisor, Thinking Partner MY PURPOSE: “Not trying to change the world, but want to change the world I touch.” Suresh Sundarababu has excelled as a change leader with 25+ years of experience in implementing strategies to scale and transform global organizations. He works with purpose-driven organizations with strong values to […]

Location: 23 V.M.C Colony

40. Eric Collier – Richmond Heights

Eric Collier – Executive Coach This is my childhood home. We moved there when I was 3 years old in 1950. Daddy was the ultimate provider and when he saw the opportunity to purchase a home for his family–at that time a family of 4 that included Mama, my older sister Gloria and me–he took […]

Location: 14740 Jackson St

41. Jenaya Zarrad – The Union Colony Civic Center

Jenaya Zarrad – StellarFi This place really shaped me and my passion for the arts and is one of the few places in my hometown where I felt happy and where I could be myself.

Location: 701 10th Ave

42. Mayet Andreassen – San Francisco, CA

Mayet Andreassen – Assoc. Program Director, & Instructional Assist. Professor This was my second apartment in graduate school.  I was in my mid to late 20’s and it was the early to mid aughts. It was the first time I really felt like a full adult. I was living by myself, going to school, working […]

Location: 935 Pine Street

43. Jackie Venson – Antone’s Nightclub

Jackie Venson – Musician It is legend that a blistering Jackie Venson guitar solo knocked Pluto straight out of planetary existence. Venson’s “…astonishing mix of raw soul, superb musicianship and laid back grace…” (Austin American Statesman, June 2014) has been compared to the likes of Joss Stone, Amy Winehouse and fellow Austin native Gary Clark, […]

Location: 305 E 5th St.

44. Keisha Townsend Tait – Harlem

Keisha Townsend Taitt – Chief Inclusion Officer My aspirations in advertising brought me to New York City shortly after graduating college. Realizing I couldn’t afford to live near my office in the East Village, the place I called home for a decade was Harlem. Known as the “Black Mecca” of the world, my newly renovated […]

Location: 2235 5th Avenue

45. Carl Settles Jr. – Gateway Apartments

Carl Settles Jr. – CEO Carl Settles is the visionary Founder and Chief Executive Officer of E4 Youth, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and technology start up in Austin, TX whose mission is to Engage, Empower, Educate and Employ the young talent of color an equitable future demands by ensuring that they are Seen, Heard and […]

Location: 1624 W 6th St

46. What Causes Gentrification? What to Know and What to Do | What Once Was

Written By: Ben Perez Edited By: Elisa Calderon   Introduction Gentrification is a contentious issue that impacts communities around the world and has been affecting Austin neighborhoods and communities for years. It has become a focal point for discussions on urban development, cultural heritage, and ideas about equity. In this blog post, we will look […]