SAN ANTONIO – In the early 1900s, the building we now know as the Carver Community Center was a safe haven for Black San Antonians. The center served as a performance space for artists and musicians of the times like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and more.
In 1930, two local activists, John Grumbles and Charles Bellinger pushed to re-purpose the space as a library for African-Americans during segregation. It officially opened the following year as “The Colored Library Auditorium” but continued to house virtually all events in the African-American community.
In 1938, the building was renamed in honor of George Washington Carver, a prominent Black scientist.
Then in 1973, when the city wanted the building demolished, community members stood in front of the bulldozer to keep it standing. They succeed in stopping the demolition, and instead the building was renovated into the space we have today.
The current space continues to house local artists, musicians and performers much like it originated. After desegregation, the library which is now known as the Carver Branch Library moved to East Commerce Street.
When the library was first established, Prudence Lewis Curry was brought in as the first branch manager and librarian.
Prior to that, she was a school teacher in South Carolina and Prairie View A&M. With a passion for education, she spent the next 28 years leading the library that is now dedicated to her memory.
The library today follows in Curry’s footsteps with dedication to serving the community and our youth. The branch hosts a variety of events, from book fairs and Black History Month events, to fitness and karaoke.