the neighborhood & blackshear elementary's history
We gathered information from the Austin History Center on Blackshear Elementary's past to share with the students and surrounding community. Many of the AISD schools have extensive historical files and documentation at the Austin History Center.
Jessen & Jessen renovated and added to the existing schoolhouse buildings in 1948 & 1961. A local firm of brothers founded in 1938, they designed a number of AISD elementary school buildings including Mathews, Govalle, and Palm. The Austin History Center has a complete index of their works and information on the founders and firm history. The sets of hand drawings for the renovations and many of their other projects can be found at the Austin History Center downtown. They allow photographs and scans through a service with Dynamic Reprographics in town for a fee.
Like many schools, Blackshear's current campus is the result of many years of additions and renovations. In 1961, the current library was renovated from the existing gym. (It is one of the few libraries in AISD with skylights). The original construction and 1949 and 1961 additions were concrete structures with brick cladding. The new gym which added in 1999 has a structural steel framing system. If you look around the school you can see where old louvers used to be (the current location of the art murals) and where former outside breezeways were enclosed.
From the research from the Austin History Center and other sources, I distilled the information into the following timeline charting Blackshear Elementary's history (top) with the establishment of other historical East Austin landmarks in the neighborhood (bottom).
3 OTHER RESOURCES
Another excellent resource for East Austin history was shared with me by Tom Hatch of the neighborhood architecture firm h+uo architects. Tom is helping with the schoolyard planning process and has a wealth of experience and familiarity with the neighborhood. The book Austin's Rosewood Neighborhood by Jane H. Rivera, PhD and Gilberto C. Rivera offers a compelling photo history of the Rosewood. The book is available on reserve at the Carver Library.
To better understand the hardships that East Austin's neighborhoods overcame to build their communities and schools and the experiences of teachers during desegregation, check out this book Oh Do I Remember!: Experiences of Teachers During the Desegregation of Austin's Schools, 1964-1971.