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August 12, 2020

Historic Clarksville home and the Paramount Theatre receive Preservation Austin grants

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The former home of African- American community organizer and activist Mary Frances Freeman Baylor, along with the Paramount Theatre, are the latest recipients of a Preservation Austin grant program.

The $5,000 grants fund both brick-and-mortar projects as well as property surveys and historic designation research.

Baylor is credited with saving Clarksville, the neighborhood, located near downtown Austin, that was founded by freed slaves in the 1870s and was home to an African American community until City of Austin policies forced residents from the area. Clarksville was one of the earliest freedmen’s communities established west of the Mississippi River.

Today the Clarksvile that runs along Mopac, North Lamar, West Sixth, and West 15 streets is noted for its mix of new and long-term residents in quaint and charming homes.

A lifelong resident of Clarksville, Baylor (1929-1997) was director of the Clarksville Neighborhood Center in Austin, and founder of the Clarksville Community Development Corporation. Her ancestors were among the original settlers of Clarksville. A park in Clarksville is named in her honor.



The modest house on West 10th Street, built in 1950, was the subject of a very public preservation fight when in 2014 it was threatened with demolition.

The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue, was built in 1915, and in its early vaudeville days hosted the Marx Brothers, Houdini and Sarah Bernhardt, among others. It is still an active entertainment venue.

Paramount Theater
Paramount Theater

 


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