Jewel of the Fourth Ward

gregory school

When you arrive at 1300 Victor Street, you are met by a 1926 brick building which looks like many school buildings during that era. 

In order to park on the grounds of the library and enter the building, you must circle the block to 1300 Cleveland Street. You are met by a structure that represents the past, present and future. The entrance to the African American Library at the Gregory School is a two story, glass entrance, surrounded by the original 1926 brick structure. 

You’ve arrived at one of Houston’s oldest established African American communities, Freedmen’s Town. This historic district was established by formerly enslaved African Americans after the Civil War.   

Checkout the timeline of Freedmen’s Town and the marriage between the Gregory School and Houston Public Library:  

Journey from 1840 to 1920 

1841 - The "Wards" are established. 

1863 - Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Abraham Lincoln. 

1865 - News of Emancipation freedom from slavery arrives in Texas, and Freedpeople from plantations along the Brazos River migrate to Houston. 

1865 - Freedpeople settle and own property along the west side of Downtown Houston in an area later known as Freedmen’s Town. 

1870 - The Freedmen’s Bureau persuades the Texas Legislature to create public schools for African Americans. The Gregory Institute opens in Fourth Ward, Freedmen’s Town. 

1872 - The Freedmen’s Bureau schools close and teachers and students transfer to the Gregory Institute. 

1875 - A committee established by the Mayor recommends a high school for each race; one white and one black for each district. 

1876 - The City of Houston assumes control of all public schools. The Gregory Institute becomes part of the public school system. 

1906 - The "Ward" system is officially discontinued. 

1915 - Over 400 Black establishments or businesses exist in Freedmen’s Town. 

1920 - Freedmen’s Town represents one-third of Houston’s population, becoming an area similar to that of Harlem, New York. 

Have you visited this historic distric recently?

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