Hope House Ministries works to preserve Sutton Family history through planned remodel

Hope House Ministries is a social service group on the East Side; the building its team works out of holds more than a century of history

SAN ANTONIO – Sorting through dozens of pages detailing the Sutton family’s history, Everett Fly said their legacy runs deep throughout San Antonio.

“They were everything you can imagine,” said Fly, an architect and landscape architect.

The Sutton family led advocacy efforts in civil rights, education, entrepreneurship and philanthropy. Their home base was in the Alamo City.

More than a century later, the building still stands, and Hope House Ministries is trying to keep the Sutton family legacy alive.

“We’re here to continue the legacy that the Suttons started here,” said Jake Molak, a Hope House Ministries board member. “We want to create it exactly the way it was when they were here.”

According to Hope House Ministries, Samuel and Lillian Sutton built their home at 430 N. Cherry Street in 1896. The house saw the birth of 15 Sutton children.

“They built this house,” Fly said. “I’m not sure what gave him and the family the courage to continue to be advocates, but they really did.”

Fly said Samuel Sutton was an avid advocate for equal rights. Born as an enslaved person, Fly said Samuel went to Mexico for a couple of years after his family was free in 1865 before moving to San Antonio in 1885.

“Mr. Sutton was probably one of less than 50 Black school teachers in the whole city at that time,” Fly said. “Mr. Sutton was one of the first African Americans to serve on a grand jury in Bexar County.”

Fly said the Sutton legacy is filled with strength and determination, and their family home was the center of it.

“Customs are embedded in these properties,” Fly said. “I can’t think of another house or place or building in San Antonio that has that much authentic legacy and national prominence.”

In the city, neighborhoods like Dignowity Hill are quickly changing. In KSAT’s Know My Neighborhood series, we focused specifically on the history and the growth.

Fly said even as communities evolve, preserving history has to be at the forefront.

“If gentrification erases them or urban development erases them, it not only leaves a gap for those specific groups, but it leaves a cultural gap for the entire city,” Fly said. “If San Antonio is going to — which it does call itself a multicultural city, then we need to stand up for places like this and look for ways to conserve, preserve and protect them.”

Fly said Dignowity Hill is a designated historic district. He said the Sutton House property is not an individual historic landmark but a contributing landmark to the district.

As Hope House Ministries plans to expand and build a community center, Molak said preservation is their priority.

“This family fought for the underprivileged,” Molak said. “And anyone seeking help, they would lend a helping hand. When you’re in here and when you’re participating and helping, you kind of feel that.”

To learn more about Hope House’s efforts in Dignowity Hill, click here.

About the Authors

Avery Everett is a news reporter and multimedia journalist at KSAT 12 News. Avery is a Philadelphia native. If she’s not at the station, she’s either on a hiking or biking trail. A lover of charcuterie boards and chocolate chip cookies, Avery’s also looking forward to eating her way through San Antonio, one taco shop at a time!

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