Calaboose African American History Museum offers lessons on San Marcos' past

Hays County's first jail become a USO center for black World War II soldiers before it was turned into a museum. (Courtesy Calaboose Museum of African American History)
Hays County's first jail become a USO center for black World War II soldiers before it was turned into a museum. (Courtesy Calaboose Museum of African American History)

Hays County's first jail become a USO center for black World War II soldiers before it was turned into a museum. (Courtesy Calaboose Museum of African American History)

Image description
A historic look at the cotton industry offers a glimpse of a different San Marcos. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
Board member Elvin Holt said it is important for the museum to educate visitors on topics such as minstrel shows. (Evelin Garcia/Community Impact Newspaper)
Image description
With historic photos hanging from aged walls and vivid exhibits explaining 146 years of history, the Calaboose African American History Museum has made it its mission to safeguard local African American history in what originally served as Hays County’s first jail.

“When we start a tour, we tell all about the history of the people [photographed] and the objects. We always try to tie our exhibits to our local scene—places people know,” museum board President Elvin Holt said.

Built in 1873 the former calaboose, or jail, that once housed prisoners now hosts around 12 exhibits celebrating local black heroes in sports, music, business and the military. The museum also displays documents and newspaper clippings from periods of segregation and integration, noting the injustice and inequality.

The building was first renovated in 1990 before opening as a museum in 1997 after founder Johnnie M. Armstead worked to create a home for local African American history. Since then, the museum has served as an educational destination for the community and tourists.

“When Mrs. Armstead died, the museum nearly closed because board members dropped out, so we had to work hard to reconstitute the board. Her death was a hard blow to the museum because she was the real soul of the museum, but I was able to recruit new members,” Holt said.


Holt says there are a few controversial exhibitions at the museum that are important to showcase, as they tell the story of African American history in San Marcos. Such exhibits include images of blackface, minstrel props and a display of an original, local Ku Klux Klan robe from the 1920s.

“It’s important to display it because it’s local, and it confirms that San Marcos was a Klan-friendly town. There was a Klan rally in San Marcos that attracted 20,000 Klansmen,” Holt said.

Open on Saturdays or by appointment, the museum operates through donations and volunteer work; the utilities are funded by the city. The building received its historic landmark status in 1990, according to Holt. The museum, Holt said, invites the community to engage with local African American history through both exhibits and events. Calaboose African American History Museum 200 W. Martin Luther King Drive, San Marcos 512-393-8421 www.facebook.com/calaboosemuseum Hours: Sat. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. and by appointment
By Evelin Garcia
Evelin Garcia covers local government, education, business and development as the reporter of Community Impact Newspaper's San Marcos/Buda/Kyle edition. Evelin is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in international studies.


MOST RECENT

Green Guy Recycling opened in January of 1995. (Courtesy Green Guy Recycling)
Green Guy Recycling in San Marcos expands community options

Green Guy Recycling specializes in purchasing ferrous, or iron-based metals, and nonferrous metals.

Effective July 9, hospitals in more than 100 counties across the state must now postpone elective surgeries unrelated to COVID-19. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
MAP: Governor expands restrictions on elective surgeries to more than 100 Texas counties

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott expanded the restrictions that initially required only hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris, and Travis counties to postpone all non-medically necessary surgeries and procedures that are unrelated to COVID-19.

In compliance with Gov. Greg Abbott's July 2 executive order, the University Interscholastic League is requiring the use of facial coverings when practical to do so for all summer activity participants, among other guidelines. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
UIL releases guidelines for conducting summer activities during COVID-19 pandemic

The University Interscholastic League released udpated guidelines for schools conducting summer activities such as sports training and marching band practices on July 8.

Beijing Bistro is located at 3420 FM 967, Ste. 110B, Buda (Courtesy Beijing Bistro)
Buda's Beijing Bistro offers customized eats and family atmosphere

Eduardo Martinez started working in Chinese restaurants in 1995, shortly after he arrived from Mexico. He started in the food industry as a dishwasher, then eventually became owner of his own restaurant.

Hays County's number of confirmed cases of coronavirus rose July 8. (Community Impact staff)
Hays County reports 85 new coronavirus cases, 1 additional death July 8

The Hays County Local Health Department confirmed 85 additional coronavirus cases July 8, bringing the total to 3,328.

Census worker
2020 census: Bureau prepares nonresponse follow-up field operations

For individuals who have not responded to the 2020 census, one of about 500,000 census takers will visit the their household between Aug. 11-Oct. 31.

A resolution supporting the creation of a River Benefit Parking District was approved by San Marcos City Council members at a July 7 meeting. (Anna Herod/ Community Impact Newspaper)
San Marcos City Council members approve resolution to create river parking district

San Marcos City Council members approved a resolution supporting the creation of a River Benefit Parking District with the implementation of paid parking at a July 7 meeting.

building on street corner
San Marcos moves forward with COVID-19 Testing Program in partnership with Hays County

San Marcos City Council learned details about a partnership between the city and Hays County at a July 7 meeting that could advance coronavirus testing efforts.

The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions for the 2020-21 school year. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas Education Agency issues guidelines for 2020-21 school year

The guidelines address on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions that should be enforced at Texas schools this year.

Here is the data on the COVID-19 cases Hays County reported July 7. (Community Impact staff)
Hays County reports 50 new coronavirus cases July 7

Numbers provided by the Hays County Local Health Department showed 50 new coronavirus cases and one new hospitalization July 7.