I had the opportunity this weekend to visit Freedmen’s Town, the historic black community formed by newly freed slaves in the Fourth Ward on the outskirts of downtown Houston.
The occasion was a service day by members of the First Unitarian Universalist Church, who took part in the ongoing project to restore the once-stately homes of two founding residents of Freemen’s Town, the Rev. Rutherford B.H. Yates and the Rev. Ned P. Pullum, who in addition to being religious leaders were prominent members of early Houston’s black business community.
Earlier in the week, Carol McDavid, an archeologist and executive director of Community Archaeology Research Institute, gave a lecture at the church on efforts to preserve the area’s historic sites and maintain its character in the face of the wave of “gentrification” that has swept through the newly christened Neartown.
Much has been written and said about the competing interests at that intersection, and since I haven’t done much (or any, really) research of my own, I won’t belabor it here. Perhaps in a later post.
But it is quite interesting to walk along the narrow, red-bricked streets of Freedmen’s Town and see the dilapidated, but still salvageable, homes that belong to a once-thriving community juxtaposed against the (let’s face it) cookie-cutter townhomes belonging to an entirely different group of residents.
Meanwhile, I invite you to check out the photos I took on Saturday, many of which highlight the fading grandeur of these homes, which in time may be grand again.
Copyright © 2011 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.