AUSTIN- About 500 community members recently gathered to celebrate the grand opening of the African American Cultural and Heritage Facility in East Austin. The grand opening festivities featured U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Mayor Lee Leffingwell, Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole, City Manager Marc Ott and community leaders including City Council members and representatives from the Capital City African American Chamber of Commerce, the African American Resource Advisory Commission and the African American Cultural Heritage District. The public event included a ribbon-cutting, entertainment and self-guided tours.
“The opening of this African American Cultural and Heritage Facility is a historical occasion in Austin’s story,” City Manager Ott said. “Not only will this facility be a central gathering place for the community, it will serve as a reminder of the City of Austin’s long-term commitment to protecting and enhancing quality of life for African Americans.”
The African American Cultural and Heritage Facility, 912 E. 11th St., is a three-part project:
• Restoration of the historic Dedrick-Hamilton House.
• Construction of a 4,000-square-foot building with meeting space, offices and a multi-purpose room.
• A mosaic mural commissioned by Art in Public Places in the outdoor courtyard. The mural pays tribute to the African American community in Austin. The Dedrick-Hamilton House was owned by Thomas Dedrick, one of the first freed slaves in Travis County. The home, built about 1880, was in one of the earliest African American communities in East Austin. The restored historic house will serve as the African American Visitors Center providing information on the African American Cultural Heritage District and African-American cultural events throughout the city. The project grew out of the African-American Quality of Life Initiative that began in 2005, and contributes to its goals of business opportunity and support of the arts.