Skip to content

Son Of Texas’ First Black Architect Donates $1 Million To UT Austin In Honor Of Father’s Legacy

Son Of Texas’ First Black Architect Donates $1 Million To UT Austin In Honor Of Father’s Legacy

He’s making sure he keeps his father’s name alive!

The son of Texas’ first Black licensed architect donated $1 million to the University of Texas at Austin in honor of his father’s legacy, Black Enterprise reports. 

John S. Chase enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture in 1950, making history as the first Black licensed architect in the state upon his graduation in 1952. His professional career would skyrocket, first being appointed assistant professor of architectural drafting at Texas Southern University before founding his own architectural firm John S. Chase, AIA Architect, boasting offices in Houston, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. 

The elder Chase started off building projects specifically for the Black community, like churches, schools and single-family homes. He went on to acquire larger projects, designing the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas headquarters in 1952. UT later acquired the building in 2018. Chase was also very active in building community and a model for other Black architects to follow, co-founding the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) in 1971 and serving as a member of UT’s Development Board and Commission of 125. He also became  the first African American to serve on the United States Commission of Fine Arts appointed by President Jimmy Carter – as well as made history as the first Black president of the Texas Exes, the official alumni association for UT at Austin. 

John S. Chase, 1998. Photo Courtesy of Houston Chronicle photo library

In 2012, John S. Chase passed away at the age of 87. Now, his son, accomplished Houston entrepreneur and law professor Tony Chase, is honoring his late father’s legacy. Recently, Chase announced that he would be donating $1 million to UT Austin’s School of Architecture in homage to his father’s legacy, with the aim of paving the way for the next generation of young architects. 

“My father always said, ‘A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” said Chase. 

UT Austin President Jay Hartzell spoke about the significance of Chase’s donation and his father’s legacy, saying, “As one of the first Black students to enroll at UT, John Chase helped pave the way for progress and change. Then, he brought his considerable talents, creativity, and education together to design special places that brought people together. This gift is an investment in the transformative power of education to bring about that sort of change and impact, and will support us as we continue to strive for excellence delivered through a richly diverse and inclusive campus.”

Chase and his wife Dr. Dina Alsowayel are donating the money to the University to establish the John S. Chase Family Endowed Graduate Fellowship.The Fellowship will serve as a permanent endowment, focused on attracting underrepresented communities to the architecture sector, recruiting graduates of HBCUs to UT at Austin and retaining faculty members by encouraging them to pursue their areas of research.

“Throughout his life and as reflected in his build works, John Chase was a connector and a community-builder. Not only did Chase design spaces that brought people together, but he used his pioneering position to create opportunities for others. We are extremely grateful for Tony’s incredible gift and honored to continue John Chase’s legacy of creating opportunities for a whole new generation,” said Michelle Addington, dean of the School of Architecture. 

Thank you for your contributions. The Chase legacy lives on!

Photo Courtesy of Tony Chase/Black Enterprise