African American Library and Museum at the Gregory School

Houston Public Library System 

The African American Library at the Gregory School, located in historic Freedman’s Town, is one of two Houston Public Library research libraries. This historical, adaptive reuse project converted a former historical elementary school into a two-story exhibit space and archival library with a new 2,000 SF lobby addition. The transformation into a research library creates an interpretive experience profoundly connecting the school with the surrounding community as a new center for interpreting African-American culture through history.

The first floor of the library is dedicated to exhibits with an art gallery focused on the African-American experience. The second floor is a reading and research floor including book stacks and special collection rooms. The design incorporates sustainable building practices, and the library is seeking a Gold Level certification from the USGBC. Sustainable building features include enhanced energy-efficiency, day-lighting and views, reduction of indoor pollutants, redirection of construction debris from the landfill, reduction of heat island effect, recycled and regional materials, and enhanced building commissioning to ensure high performance.  

The interior and exterior restoration resulted in a dramatic transformation of the structure to its original 1926 appearance. Windows and bricks were carefully removed, restored, and reinstalled. The central corridors have been restored to mimic their original appearance, with historically-accurate unfinished concrete floors, while the stairs feature original wood handrails. The new entrance lobby addition, enclosed in structural glass, allows views to the historic walls, windows, and doors.  

The project garnered several design awards including Design Citations from the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Texas Historical Society.  

To learn more about this award winning project, click here.

African American Library and Museum at the Gregory School before the redevelopment.