Where can you visit cultural assets such as the oldest house in Austin, the first neighborhood African American Museum in Texas, the Arlington Cemetery of Texas, and the oldest institution for higher learning in Austin?
The answers to all the above may be found by visiting Austin's African American Cultural Historic District (AACHD). Austin's African American Historic district is six square miles of East Austin, originally created in 1928 as the Negro District by the Austin City Council. East Austin was already the home of the majority African Americans who built a vibrant and rich culture that included businesses, churches, schools, two colleges, and fraternal organizations, but also boasted ethnic neighborhoods consisting of Swedes, Germans, Italians and Lebanese.
Visit Austin's African American Cultural Heritage District and discover these gems:
Harold McMillan at Victory Grill. Credit Spencer Ponce.
Victory Grill 1104 E. 11th St. Opened on Victory over Japan Day 1945 as a restaurant and bar for returning Black servicemen. Popular venue for local musicians and major performers on the Chitlin Circuit; including Billie Holiday, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, Etta James, Chuck Berry and Janice Joplin.
George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center 1165 Angelina St. The museum first opened in 1980 as Texas' first neighborhood African American museum showcasing African American collections and exhibits. It also serves to collect, preserve and research African American culture. Check out the Genealogy Center, an extension of the George Washington Carver Museum & Cultural Center at www.austintexas.gov/genealogycenter.
French Legation Museum 802 San Marcos St. Built 1840-41, this was home of French Charge d'affaires Alphonse Dubois. In 1848, the property was purchased by Dr. James Robertson and used as a residence and plantation for Dr. Robertson, his wife Louise their 11 children. In addition, the family owned nine slaves. During that period the site was known as Robertson Hill. At the end of the Civil War in 1865, the Robertson family began selling parcels of land to persons of various ethnic groups, including newly-freed African Americans.
Texas State Cemetery grounds.
Texas State Cemetery 909 Navasota St. Established 1851, the Texas State Cemetery is the final resting place of Texas Statesmen, Military Veterans and other individuals who have contributed to the rich culture that is Texas. Check out Monument Hill, site of the grave and monument of Austin's namesake, Stephen F. Austin. Other notable gravesites include those of the legendary Barbara Jordan, the first African American who was interred in the Texas State Cemetery, and Willie Wells, who was born in Austin and who played baseball in the Negro Leagues. Elsewhere are gravesites of Civil War veterans both North and South as well as monuments to Texans who died in wars fought afterwards. Other special monuments include the Black Legislators Monument, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and September 11th 2001 Monument. Its nickname, the Arlington Cemetery of Texas, is justified.
Downs Baseball Field 2816 E. 12th St. Also known as Downs-Mabson Field, this historic field was once the home of the Austin Black Senators baseball team. Negro Baseball League games were played there as well. Baseball notables who took to the field there include Satchel Paige, Buck O'Neil, Willie Wells (born in Austin and buried in the Texas State Cemetery), Smokey Joe Williams, and Willie Mays. Currently, Downs Field is the baseball home of the Huston-Tillotson University Rams baseball team.
Huston-Tillotson University 900 Chicon St. Chartered 1877 and opened 1881 this historic African American University is two years older than Austin's best known school, the University of Texas. Samuel Huston College merged with Tillotson College in 1952 to form Huston-Tillotson University. The Ira Evans Hall and the Anthony and Louise Viaer Alumni Hall are both listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Campus tours are given upon request.