Dedication of the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility

Posted by on Mar 1, 2013 in Austin, Journal

Dedication of the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility at 912 E. 11th Street, Austin
March 1, 2013

We were honored to team with McKinney York on the restoration of the historic Dedrick-Hamilton House as part of the new African American Cultural and Heritage Facility.  The facility was dedicated today with a celebration of prayer, gratitude, and best wishes from the community.

I remember when I first saw the Dedrick-Hamilton House in the mid-1990s, working as a project reviewer in the Division of Architecture at the Texas Historical Commission.  The little green house was very run down, and set in the middle of a fairly unsafe area just east of IH 35.  The City designated the area “slum and blighted,” and application was made for federal funding to finance many demolitions in the neighborhood that I fought with intensity.  Miraculously, this home was one that was saved.  I regret that I never was able to meet James Hamilton, the last family member to reside in the house.

The Dedrick-Hamilton House was constructed around 1892 by freed slave Thomas Dedrick and his son, William T. Dedrick, to be William’s home.  William and his wife, Sarah, were significant members of the African American community in the first half of the twentieth century.   William was the Commander of the Knights of Pythias, a charitable, benevolent, and fraternal order.  Sarah was the matriarch of the family, and a founding member of the Community Welfare Association, established in 1927.  This women’s organization was formed to construct a suitable building where African American clubs could meet and carry on their activities and receive health care.  The building that was constructed was known as the Howson Community Center at 1192 Angelina Street.  How appropriate that Sarah Dedrick’s home is now an integral part of a beautiful new community facility.

Fast forward to 2009, and the architectural firm of McKinney York is hired to design the new African American Cultural and Heritage Facility in and around the Dedrick-Hamilton House.   We were thrilled when they asked us to be their historical consultant.  We completed historic research on the property, then provided guidance as needed on specific restoration issues related to the rehabilitation of the historic house. The paint colors used in the restoration match those that were in place in 1923, the restoration date for the house.

McKinney York designed an elegant, respectful, and beautifully scaled building of Austin common brick to frame the Dedrick-Hamilton House on two sides.  Reginald C. Adams is the artist of a breath-taking mural in the courtyard, titled “Reflections,” pictured here behind the crowd at the dedication.  We are so thrilled to be a part of projects like this.  What a day!