The Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) has been awarded an $82,000 Heritage Preservation Grant from the City’s Economic Development Department for its project, Pathways at Rosewood Courts Tourism Kiosks: Amplification of African American History in Austin.
The kiosks are part of the current renovation and preservation of the historic, 80-year-old Rosewood Courts, which was the first African American public housing project in the United States.
When completed in 2024/2025, the Pathways at Rosewood Courts will consist of three new residential apartment buildings with 184 modern units specifically targeted for low-income households. The new units will feature updated amenities, energy-efficient appliances, and expanded green spaces.
As importantly, the renovations also include an extensive historic preservation of the site to serve as a valuable tool to educate the public about the history of Rosewood Courts and its legacy to the East Austin community.
HACA intends for the five kiosks to provide visitors with educational details about the history of Rosewood Courts and a commemorative green space that recalls Emancipation Park, the site on which Rosewood Courts was originally built, as well as an “interpretive center” to connect with other African-American resources across the city.
“Constructed by HACA in 1939 under the U.S. Housing Act of 1937—and championed by then-Congressman Lyndon Baines Johnson—Rosewood has been a fixture of East Austin for decades,” said HACA Chief Operating Officer Sylvia Blanco. “It was important to us, and to our community partners, that Rosewood’s legacy be honored and preserved.”
In partnership with Nelsen Partners, Urban Foundry Architects, and Carleton Companies, a significant part of the preservation effort includes the refurbishing and restoring of exteriors for eight of the original 1939-era Rosewood Court buildings to their original appearance, while transforming the interiors into 20 spacious, modern units.
“Our goal is to amplify and celebrate the history of Austin’s original Emancipation Park, Rosewood Courts, and the contributions of African Americans in Austin,” Blanco said. “Many in Austin may not be aware of the significance of this site. We aim to change that, and this kiosk project is an important element of that story.”
Funding for the Heritage Preservation Grant Program, which is managed by the Economic Development Department’s Heritage Tourism Division, comes from 15 percent of the City’s Heritage Preservation Fund, which invests in arts, heritage, and music in Austin.
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