Paying homage to one of its earliest Black students, The University of Texas at Austin (UT) has purchased a historic commercial building designed by John Saunders Chase. As the first Black student to graduate from the School of Architecture and the first licensed Black architect in the state of Texas, Chase’s legacy is one of courage and community. UT’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) is committed to recognizing and building community connection to the legacy of UT’s first Black students and the larger Austin community. The restoration of the 1,450-square-foot building located at 1191 Navasota St. in central east Austin (thought to be Chase’s first commercial building design) is one such effort.
Built in 1952, the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and originally served as the headquarters for the Colored Teachers Association of Texas. Throughout the years, the minimalist-inspired building has boasted a long history of social impact in the Black community, most recently as the House of Elegance. The building will continue its legacy of community engagement by becoming the new home for the public-facing programs of DDCE’s Center for Community Engagement to be housed at the newly named John S. Chase Building.
The DDCE is dedicated to addressing issues of equity and access in historically underserved communities, through mutually beneficial partnerships and looks forward to fostering innovative programs at the John S. Chase building.