Ellis Alley Enclave (c. 1885-1918)

San Antonio, Bexar Co.

Owner: VIA Metropolitan Transit | Architect: Ford, Powell & Carson, Architects and Planners, Inc. and Mainstream Architects, Inc.

The Ellis Alley Enclave, a group of three modest houses in San Antonio’s Near East Side, is the last remnant of the city’s original urban Freedom colony and the hub of the African American community through the first decades of the 20th century. By the 1990s, it was in the crosshairs of demolition, but preservation-minded individuals from a number of organizations, public and private, championed its significance and changed the narrative.

Guided by the San Antonio Conservation Society and its Executive Director, Bruce MacDougal, the owner rehabilitated the Enclave houses in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards, preserving and reusing much of the structural members, headboard, flooring and trim.

The rehabilitation has served as a catalyst for economic development, and the non-profit San Antonio for Growth on the Eastside took occupancy of the largest building, and serves as an ambassador for the site. The remaining two structures are leased to small businesses, which complement the desired economic growth. In addition, a public display is under development, acknowledging the important history of the Ellis Alley Enclave.