SAN ANTONIO – San Antonio’s downtown is set to gain more diverse cultural offerings in the coming years.
In 2026, the San Antonio African American Community Archive & Museum plans to move out of its current headquarters in La Villita, hoping to set up shop at the Kress-Grant Building at 311 East Houston St. A cultural center, a 500-seat auditorium, and a working lunch counter are all on the drawing board. The goal is to capture a slice of recovering downtown tourism through a multitude of different programming initiatives.
The archive and museum work to collect, preserve and showcase the history of San Antonio’s Black residents through its archives and event programming.
Museum CEO and Director Deborah Omowale Jarmon told the Business Journal the organization is slowly outgrowing its 715-square-foot location, along with offices for leadership on Broadway.
“We also store our archives and our collections there,” she said. “That’s in about 3,800 square feet, and we are up to the ceiling. So, we need a little bit of space.”
Both parcels of the Kress-Grant property add up to more than 44,000 square feet.
Gregory Street at Overland Partners is leading the project’s design. He said the opportunity to help create a gathering place for people to learn about local Black history and culture is personally enriching as a Black architect.
“I think that having the opportunity to craft Black space is essential for healing, essential for continued growth and celebration and essential for just general well-being,” he said in a recent interview. “For me, personally, there are almost no places in the city of San Antonio that really have that capacity.”
The group also plans to build a 12- to -14-room hotel at the top of the Grant Building. Suggested by a stakeholder through a series of meetings about the future museum, Street said it’s a unique addition to a project that fits into the organization’s goal to explore different avenues for revenue generation and downtown San Antonio’s tourist draw. The hotel would maintain a connection to the cultural center through a regular rotation of artwork.
“There will be continuity between that and museum pieces in that we would essentially have a big exhibit space that is part of the major circulation,” he said. “We see that as a kind of front porch exhibit into each room. So, you may be in the Kehinde Wiley Suite where you have a bunch of Kehinde Wiley art in front of your room that you can go and experience.”
Both Jarmon and Street said it was too early to say if there would be any collaboration between the museum and the Alamo Trust’s programming at the Woolworth Building, a lunch counter that was desegregated in 1960 that the Trust plans to restore.
Jarmon wants potential visitors — whether they planned a trip around it or if they just walked in off the street — to come away with a sense of the breadth of contributions that African descendants have made to the community and the kind of resiliency that inspires future generations.
Editor’s note: This story was published through a partnership between KSAT and the San Antonio Business Journal.