Austin (KXAN) - A small yellow house on East 11th Street near Interstate 35 serves as the Visitor Center of Austin's new African American Cultural and Heritage Facility.
But it was once home to the family of one of the first freed slaves in Travis County. It is known as the Dedrick-Hamilton house, and architects from McKinney York in Austin made sure to restore the outside of the structure to its state in the 1920s.
The house is just part of the old and new structures that make up the new facility. There are meeting rooms for community gatherings and art like a mural by Reginald Adams highlighting the people who have written east Austin's history.
"This is a reminder of great people and what they've done here, and we can do the same thing," said Austin NAACP President Nelson Linder . "There is a huge commitment and obligation. These are all reminders of the excellence in our community."
"It's to welcome people to our neighborhood and to not only people who live here but people who are visiting -- to see the vibrancy of the community," said President of McKinney York Architects Heather McKinney.
The project is the result of years of collaboration among the city of Austin and several community groups. The buildings themselves tout solar panels, and water and energy saving systems likely bringing gold LEED certification. LEED stands for "leadership in energy and environmental design."
The city of Austin only requires city buildings hold the silver level of LEED certification.
"With this project the city went over and beyond, and we were able to do a gold which is much higher and has much more rigorous requirements to attain, so this building is very green," said President of McKinney York Architects Heather McKinney.
The facility is intended to be the gateway to the east side. The people who have worked hard to make it reality hope it honors the history in east Austin but also looks to the future of the economy, arts and education in that part of the city. They say there is always more work to be done and hope this facility will encourage people to get involved in that work.
"It's also a reminder there's work to be done, so this is a good opportunity for folks to get involved and work on these areas," said Linder, "and make sure that we restore as much as possible this community that has been lost over the past 20 to 30 years."
The freezing and near-freezing rain that swooped into Central Texas overnight prompted numerous school closings and delays and made for a harrowing morning commute on Friday.
A man is charged with murder in the shooting death Wednesday of a woman at a North Austin auto repair shop, police said Friday.
A man is expected to survive after being stabbed in the head at the Salvation Army shelter in Downtown Austin at about 3:45 a.m. Friday.
As the Austin area prepares itself for an impending winter storm on Friday, Dec. 6, many schools have already announced delays.
With freezing temperatures pushing through the region, heating systems will likely be working overtime, which can bring rising energy bills.
Investigators are looking into an overnight fire that left one woman with third-degree burns.