The African American Cultural and Heritage Facility in East Austin is stimulating business and economic development and adds to the area’s cultural significance with programming for arts, culture and entertainment.
About 500 individuals attended a community celebration March 1 for the City’s new African American Cultural and Heritage Facility, which includes a new facility and restoration of the historic Dedrick-Hamilton House. Another special feature is the Art in Public Places mural, titled “Reflections” by artist Reginald C. Adams, which pays tribute to the people, places and events that have forged East Austin into a vibrant community.
In 2006 voters supported a General Obligation bond referendum that provided funding to create three cultural facilities for minority populations, Hispanic, Asian, and African American. The Dedrick-Hamilton house, a historic structure at 912 East 11th Street, was home to the family of one of the first freed slaves in Travis County. The house was designated for renovation and expansion and now serves as the African American Visitors Center to highlight the history of the culturally rich neighborhood.
The area referred to as the heart of the African American community in East Austin, once hosted some of the most famous rhythm and blues singers at the nearby Victory Grill and was integral in the civil rights movement. The facility will add to this cultural significance with programming for arts, culture and entertainment and will house the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce that provides services focused on supporting African American businesses citywide. Activities will be scheduled in partnership with the community.
The City Council allocated $550,000 of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus) funds to the Heritage Facility Project. These stimulus funds were expended by the federal deadline of September 30, 2012.
The project created jobs through construction and tourism. Long-term economic benefits of the project will support the revitalization efforts along East 11th and 12th streets.