HOUSTON FREEDMEN’S TOWN CONSERVANCY SEEKS TO RAISE $500,000 BY DECEMBER TO SAVE HISTORIC FOURTH WARD STRUCTURE
WHAT: The Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy is raising $500,000 to purchase 1609 Saulnier through a GoFundMe campaign and other donations by December 15, 2021. The property is an original historic structure located in Freedmen’s Town, an important cultural touchstone in Black and Texas history. All donations are welcome and can be made at www.alliesoffreedmenstown.com
WHEN: The crowdfunding campaign begins Friday, October 1, 2021 and will last until December 15, 2021. If the $500,000 is not raised by this date, the funds will be returned to donors.
Beginning October 1, The Houston Freedmen's Town Conservancy is raising $500,000 to purchase 1609 Saulnier, an original contributing structure currently for sale in the City-designated heritage district. Donations can be made at www.alliesoffreedmenstown.com starting Friday.
The building is scheduled for demolition unless the 501(c)(3) conservancy can raise the funds to close on the sale by December 15, 2021. Freedmen’s Town originally contained over 530 historic structures within the 40 block area. Now there are less than 50 contributing structures standing.
Upon purchase, the property would be donated to a City of Houston-sponsored entity that will meet affordable housing, historic preservation, and community land trust criteria. Landmark status would be applied immediately, renovations would take place and be funded by the City, and 1609 Saulnier would become affordable housing within Fourth Ward and Freedmen’s Town as an important expression of equity, honoring the neighborhood’s heritage.
“Each demolition in Freedmen’s Town further erases crucial collective history. Saving 1609 Saulnier will not only ensure it is preserved by the City of Houston in perpetuity, it will also prevent the gradual degradation of Freedmen’s Town as an important national remembrance,” says Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy Executive Director Zion Escobar.
If the fundraising goal is not met by December 15th, donations will be refunded and the Conservancy will not be able to secure the property for historic preservation.
About Houston Freedmen’s Town: Located in Houston’s Fourth Ward, Freedmen’s Town is a historically Black community founded by the formerly enslaved people after the June 19, 1865, Juneteenth, announcement of Emancipation at the end of the Civil War in Texas. Despite its cultural and architectural significance, it has faced ongoing disintegration of historic character and assets. The Houston Freedmen’s Town Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which protects and preserves Freedmen’s Town for the benefit of future generations. The Conservancy supports community engagement, re-education, and heritage tourism, and is the conservator of Freedmen’s Town as the City of Houston’s first Heritage District. For more information: instagram.com/houstonfreedmenstown