We only know their given names, but Mack, Adam, and Ned gave shape to Austin. They were among the enslaved Blacks who, in 1839, cleared the land and erected the first buildings to realize Edwin Waller’s plan for the capital city of the Republic of Texas. Black members of the building trades continued to shape the city after Emancipation. Their presence in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries can be glimpsed in construction photographs of landmarks including the Capitol and the buildings of the The University of Texas at Austin. Many lived with their families in the Black communities that once were scattered around central Austin, including the fringes of the campus. Among these were Wheatville in West Campus and Horst’s Pasture, located in the vicinity of the football practice field. The university’s appetite for additional land, and its impact on real estate values contributed to their dissolution. Professors Dudley and Gordon will briefly sketch this history and then in a conversation moderated by Professor Emeritus Cleary discuss how it speaks to Black agency.
Monday, October 12 at 5pm, streamed live on Zoom and the SOA Youtube channel.
Tara Dudley is a Lecturer in The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture where she teaches Interior Design History, American Architecture, and African American Experiences in Architecture. Dr. Dudley holds a doctorate in Architectural History and a master’s in Historic Preservation from UT-Austin and a B.A. from Princeton University. Her research focuses on nineteenth-and early twentieth-century American architecture and design, specifically the under-told and untold contributions of African Americans. Her research methodology includes creative utilization of archival resources and conducting oral histories. Her work has won several awards, including the Carter Manny Fellowship from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Arts. She currently has two book projects underway with The University of Texas Press. Dudley’s work explores preservation issues on local, regional, and national levels. She has been involved in various aspects of historic preservation, historical research, and writing and consults on projects across the nation.
Edmund T. Gordon is The University of Texas at Austin’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Founding Chairman Emeritus of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department. His teaching and research interests include: culture and power in the African Diaspora, gender studies, critical race theory, race education, and the racial economy of space and resources.
Richard Cleary is Emeritus Professor in the School of Architecture where he taught architectural history. He received the University of Texas System Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011. He currently resides in Middleton, Wisconsin, and is an honorary fellow in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Community Associate of the university’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment. He is co-author with Lawrence Speck of the The University of Texas at Austin: The Campus Guide (2011) and editor of Traces and Trajectories: The University of Texas School of Architecture at 100 (2010). His other scholarly interests include Frank Lloyd Wright, eighteenth-century French architecture, and bridges. His current project is a study of spatial practices in sports.
Work by the participants
Tara Dudley’s essay, “Before West Campus: Rediscovery and Preservation of Wheatville’s African American Heritage,” discusses the history and remaining traces of the Black community that preceded the development of the area as a center of student life. Platform (annual published by the UTSOA), 2019 issue on historic preservation edited by Benjamin Ibarra-Sevilla.
Edmund T. Gordon’s virtual Racial Geography Tour examines how racism, patriarchy, and the militarist nationalism of the New South are embodied in the buildings and landscape features of the UT campus.
Richard L. Cleary and Lawrence W. Speck’s, The University of Texas at Austin: The Campus Guide (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011), is an architectural history of the campus.
East End Cultural Heritage District (website produced by DiverseArts Culture Works) includes a history of the Blackland neighborhood, which borders the eastern edge of the campus. http://www.eastendculturaldistrict.org/cms/node/51
Goldstone, Dwonna. Integrating the 40 Acres: The Fifty-Year Struggle for Racial Equality at the University of Texas (Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 2012).
Heymann, David and Stephen Fox. John S. Chase—The Chase Residence (Austin: Tower Books and the University of Texas Press, 2020). Chase was the first Black graduate of the UTSOA and the first Black registered architect in Texas. This book examines the remarkable, mid-20th-century house he designed as his home in Houston.
Mears, Michelle. And Grace Will Lead Me Home: African American Freedmen Communities of Austin, Texas, 1865-1928 (Lubbock: Texas Tech University Press, 2009).
Sorrell, Clifton, III. “Slavery in Early Austin: The Stringer’s Hotel and Urban Slavery,” Not Even Past (e-journal published by the Department of History, The University of Texas at Austin), posted February 19, 2020. https://notevenpast.org/slavery-in-early-austin-the-stringers-hotel-and-urban-slavery/
Taylor, Mia. “The Expansion of the University of Texas: Urban Renewal, ‘N-ro Removal,’ blog post, January 25, 2019, The History of Integration at The University of Texas at Austin (website of the UT Division of Diversity and Community Engagement). Summary of the University’s efforts to expand into East Austin.
Vincent, Gregory J., Virginia A. Cumberbatch, and Leslie A. Blair, eds. As We Saw It: The Story of Integration at The University of Texas at Austin (Austin: Tower Books and the University of Texas Press, 2018). First-person accounts by students, faculty, and administrators.
Frank Strain Residence on Speedway Blvd., photograph, Date Unknown; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth17365/: accessed September 18, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Jacob Fontaine Religious Museum.
Kennedy, Craig. [Franzetti Store and House, (Northwest oblique)], photograph, April 23, 1974; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth673413/: accessed September 18, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Commission.
University of Texas Education Building, November 18, 1916. University of Texas Buildings collection, Alexander Architectural Archives, Architecture and Planning Library, University of Texas Libraries.
University of Texas Student Union Building, April 1, 1932. University of Texas Buildings collection, Alexander Architectural Archives, Architecture and Planning Library, University of Texas Libraries.
University of Texas Women's Dormitory, October 5, 1936. University of Texas Buildings collection, Alexander Architectural Archives, Architecture and Planning Library, University of Texas Libraries.