City Forum: Tara Dudley

Friday Feb. 16, 2024 , noon to 1:30 p.m.
Associate Professor Tara Dudley presents "Masontown: From Generation to Gentrification in an Early Austin Freedom Colony."
Tara Dudley Headshot

Freedom colonies--communities established by formerly enslaved African Americans--were instrumental to the development of the urban fabric across the US prior to and after the end of the Civil War. Several freedom colonies were established within what are now Austin’s city limits during Reconstruction. These include Pleasant Hill, Masontown, Wheatville, Robertson Hill, and Clarksville. Though it was one of the earliest Austin freedom colonies and retained some identity until the 1910s, Masontown’s boundaries, physical fabric, and communal memory have been all but erased in modern-day Austin.

In her talk, Dr. Tara Dudley will recapture Masontown’s history and situate the former freedom colony within the current development and preservation efforts in the City of Austin. Dr. Dudley is an Assistant Professor in The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. Her scholarship examines the contributions of African American craftspeople, builders, and architects to the American built environment, focusing on the antebellum and Reconstruction eras in the US South.