What Once Was Austin

27 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. What is Gentrification?

Written By: Ben Perez Edited By: Elisa Calderon Introduction In the dynamic landscape of urban development, the term “gentrification” has gained significant attention, sparking discussions about its impacts on historically disinvested neighborhoods. The What Once Was initiative aims to shed light on this issue, educating those who are not only interested in understanding gentrification but […]


26. 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

27. 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