With annual tour, Preservation Austin tour spotlights the Rogers-Washington-Holy Cross neighborhood in East Austin

And the non-profit organization's most recent round of bricks-and-mortar grants go to three Eastside structures


Preservation Austin will spotlight the East Austin neighborhood of Rogers-Washington-Holy Cross with its annual homes tour this year.

“Rogers-Washington-Holy Cross: Black Heritage, Living History,” the tour will be virtual again this year, at 7 p.m. on June 17. Purchase tickets at preservationaustin.org

The seven post-war and mid-century modern homes in the historically Black neighborhood — established when Austin was still segregated — include the Phillips House. With its Googie-style zig-zag roofline the house is now an icon of mid-century modern style in Austin. Built in 1964 for businesswoman and civic leader Della Phillips, the house is the work of architect John S. Chase, the first Black licensed architect in Texas, and the first African American to graduate from University of Texas’ School of Architecture.

Phillips House
Designed in 1964 for businesswoman and civic leader Della Phillips, the Phillips house is the work of architect John S. Chase, the first Black licensed architect in Texas. Photo by Lauren Kerr

Chase, who had close personal ties to the neighborhood, designed many of the nearby buildings, including the Thompson House on Maple Avenue in 1962 and David Chapel, catty-corner from the Phillips House.


King house
Built in 1959 for Huston-Tillotson University president Dr. John Q. Taylor King, the King House is featured on the Preservation Austin 2021 Tour. The house is often mistakenly attributed as designed by architect John S. Chase, who had many ties to the neighborhood. He advised and consulted on the King House along with others. Photo by Lauren Kerr

Other homes on the tour include those of Tuskegee Airman Norman Scales as well as the home of former Huston-Tillotson president Dr. John Q. Taylor King. The prominent King family is known in East Austin as proprietors of King-Tears Mortuary, founded in 1932. Today, King’s son Stuart still lives in the Givens Avenue house he grew up in.

Mims house
Carnegie Harvard Mims, Sr. and his wife Mae built this home on Weber Avenue for their family in 1961. Photo by Lauren Kerr

Mae and Carnegie Harvard Mims, Sr. relocated to Austin in 1958 and, working with local Austin developers Nash Phillips/Copus, built a ranch style home in the Holy Cross subdivision in 1961. Because of redlining and racist lending practices during the Jim Crow era, the housing options for the Mims and other Black professionals in East Austin were limited to only a handful of neighborhoods, the Holy Cross subdivision being one of them.

The Mims’ daughter, Brenda Malik, has since inherited the family home and has been an instrumental figure in the neighborhood’s effort to receive historic district designation.


Calhoun House
The Calhoun house on Givens Avenue was built in 1959. Photo by Lauren Kerr

The ranch-style Calhoun House, with its high ceilings and clerestory windows, was built in 1959 by T.C. and Thelma Calhoun, both esteemed educators and prominent community members. Today, their daughter Patricia lives in the home. In its most recent round of brick-and-mortar grants, Preservation Austin awarded the Calhoun House funds for exterior upgrades.

Also receiving recent brick-and-mortar grants are King-Seabrook Chapel and Hillside Farmacy.

Located on the Huston-Tillotson University campus, King-Seabrook Chapel was completed in 1974. Named for two presidents the College — Dr. John Q. Taylor King, Sr.  and Dr. John Jarvis Seabrook (1955-1965) — the building includes a 372-seat auditorium and a stage adequate for dramatic productions, convocations, worship services, plays, musicals, and concerts. Grant funds will support renovating the stage wall that suffered water damage.

The building housing Hillside Farmacy, a restaurant on East 11th Street, was once a drugstore and pharmacy, owned and operated by Black pharmacist, Ulysses “Doc” Young, in the 1920s. Grant funds will pay for upgrades to windows, tile renovations and weathering repairs.

Related articles