The Black Architect Who Transformed Texas - Home & Texture
Black History Books Black Architect John Chase

Learn About the Black Architect Whose Modernism Transformed Texas

June 22, 2023 at 6:04 PM PST
Black History Books Black Architect John Chase

Learn About the Black Architect Whose Modernism Transformed Texas

June 22, 2023 at 6:04 PM PST

Even though Juneteenth is over, there is still more Black history to celebrate, especially in Texas. Believe it or not, Texas architecture as we know it stems from a Black architect named John Chase. Chase faced a number of hurdles in his career, but his creativity and eye for functional property design have made him a legend even years after his passing. Now you can learn about his life in a photographic book about his life.

Texas History: Black Architect John C. Chase

John S. Chase–The Chase Residence cover
Photo credit: Amazon

Chase faced being shut out by white architects and firms at the beginning of his career. Instead of feeling dejected, Chase obtained his architect license. This made him the first Black American to be a licensed architect in the state of Texas.

“Chase mobilized modern architecture as a democratic process, and his buildings embraced the future that was determined to be better than the past and the present,” Stephen Fox, an architectural historian at Rice University and co-author of  “John S. Chase–The Chase Residence,” told the Daily Texan.

While it was hard to get a position at white firms, Chase didn’t give up. He decided to focus on securing his own clients through word of mouth and previous works. One of his main sources of business was churches. He then understood that catering to his community first was not only lucrative but rewarding.

“The thing I always wanted to do was serve as an example to young kids, elementary school and high school, who can pass by your building, see the word architect and come in and ask ‘what do you do?’” he told a radio interviewer. “You can’t do that working on the 30th floor downtown.”

Chase stayed connected to the community by opening the doors for other Black architects. One of the reasons his designs were so visionary is because he centered community in his visions. He felt connected to his community and wanted to build spaces that supported that mission.

To learn more about the life of Black architect John Chase, check out this coffee table book that showcases his life and designs. John S. Chase–The Chase Residence offers the history of Texas architecture and how Chase took his vision to new, historical levels. 

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