San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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April 7th, 2011
Cephas House meeting set for April 11


The last of a series of community meeting on the historic Cephas House will be held on Monday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at Dunbar Center, 801 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

The public is welcome to attend and offer comments on the interior space and programming of the Ulysses Cephas House and the design of the adjacent Eddie Durham Park. The city has established an email address, to receive comments or requests for information.

Cephas House

The Cephas House is located at 217 West MLK Drive, in the Dunbar Historic District across from the Calaboose African-American History Museum. The structure is named for a previous owner, Ulysses Cephas, who was a prominent African-American community leader in the first half of the twentieth century.

Previous public meetings were held on January 26, February 3, February 8, February 9, and March 18, 2011 with community groups and boards.

They included the Dunbar Neighborhood Association, Council of Neighborhood Associations, Texas State University, San Marcos Historic Preservation Commission, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, Calaboose African American History Museum Board, and the Hays County Historical Commission.

The city of San Marcos bought the property in 2003 with Community Development Block Grant funds. Stabilization of the foundation and roof and the removal of hazardous materials of the Cephas House will begin this year.

The city used additional Community Development Block Grant funds in 2003 to buy an adjacent tract, which will be the site of the Eddie Durham Park.

Cephas was a renowned blacksmith and musician, and acted as a go-between for the Klu Klux Klan and the city’s African-American population. Son of former slaves Joe and Elizabeth Cephas, he was known throughout Hays County for his skill in shoeing horses and building superior wagons and farm implements His father, Joe, was a blacksmith from New Orleans who was brought to San Marcos as a slave in 1852 and became well known for his skills, talents he passed down to his son.

Ulysses Cephas’ importance to the community is commemorated with a Texas Historical Marker located on the site dedicated in 1989.

Eddie Durham was a pioneer in jazz and a native of San Marcos. Durham arranged Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood,” pioneered recording using one of the first amplified guitars, and his work with the electric guitar strongly influenced a generation of jazz artists. The park will honor Durham.

Carter Design Associates was hired to provide architectural services to include phasing, working drawings, and specifications for the rehabilitation of the Cephas House, as well as a reuse plan. Stabilization for the project will include the foundation, roof and entry porches. TBG is the consulting firm hired to oversee the design and development of Durham Park.

In September 2010, the City held a community meeting to update the public and to gather input on the project. On Jan. 18, the City Council approved a resolution approving a series of meetings with the public and identified stakeholder groups. These meetings are helping to shape the project as well as fulfill requirements for obtaining federal funding.

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