A group of St. John’s members took a historical tour of west Austin with an emphasis on black history stories in honor of Juneteenth. The tour began at the historic Neill Cochran Mansion on San Gabriel Street, which dates to well before the Civil War. Behind the mansion stands the only slave quarters known to remain standing in Austin.
Haskell House is a historic residence in Clarksville, an old freedman settlement in what is now west of downtown. The land was originally a cane thicket, purchased in 1871 by Mr. Clark, a former slave. Clark cleared the land and sold parcels to other freedmen for home sites.
Sweet Home Missionary Baptist is a church established in the Clarksville Freedman’s settlement soon after the founding of the settlement. It remains an active congregation 150 years after its founding.
Although Black people were forced out of west Austin by the City’s discriminatory 1928 Master Plan, the congregation to this day remains mainly majority African American, many of them descendants of early congregants. One of the congregants was nice enough to allow us in and give us a personal tour.