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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Houston in Harris County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

J. Vance Lewis

 
 
J. Vance Lewis Marker image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, April 11, 2021
1. J. Vance Lewis Marker
Inscription.  

J. Vance Lewis was an attorney and community activist for the African-American community in Houston. Born enslaved circa 1863 in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, Lewis attended Leland University in New Orleans before earning a teaching certificate from the Normal School in Orange, Texas. Lewis taught and later served as principal at Cripple Creek School in Angelina County,Texas. In 1897, he graduated from the Chicago College of Law.

In 1901, Lewis moved to Houston, residing in the Freedmen’s Town community. He attended Antioch Baptist Church, where he married Pauline R. Gray, a school teacher and later librarian of Colored Carnegie Library. Lewis also opened a firm with attorney Lewis W. Greenly; at the time, J. Vance Lewis was one of only a handful of black lawyers in Texas. In 1904, he was admitted to the Texas Bar.

Lewis built this home, which he named Van Court, in 1907. Three years later, he published his autobiography. By 1920, he moved his office here. While Lewis continued to practice law, he also supported economic enterprises in the community, contributing funds for the organization of an African-American bank and
J. Vance Lewis Marker image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, April 11, 2021
2. J. Vance Lewis Marker
The Lewis Home is being restored
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joining the Colored Commercial Club, which encouraged Houstonians to support black-owned businesses. Lewis was also involved in politics, running for Criminal District Judge in 1920 and traveling across the country in support of the Black and Tan Republican Party. He encouraged African Americans to educate themselves and work hard to achieve their goals. J. Vance Lewis died on April 24, 1925 and was buried in Olivewood Cemetery. He continues to be remembered as one of Texas’ first black attorneys and as a voice for equality in Houston and throughout the nation.
 
Erected 2008 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 14479.)
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: African Americans. A significant historical date for this entry is April 24, 1925.
 
Location. 29° 45.352′ N, 95° 22.885′ W. Marker is in Houston, Texas, in Harris County. Marker is at the intersection of Wilson Street and Andrews Street, on the right when traveling south on Wilson Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1218 Wilson Street, Houston TX 77019, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. James United Methodist Church (a few steps from this marker); The Reverend Ned P. Pullum (within shouting distance of this marker); Rutherford B.H. Yates, Sr., House (within shouting distance of this marker); Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church
The view of the J. Vance Lewis Marker and house from the street image. Click for full size.
By James Hulse, April 11, 2021
3. The view of the J. Vance Lewis Marker and house from the street
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); New Zion Temple Church - Worldwide Fellowship, Inc. (about 600 feet away); William C. Swearingen (about 800 feet away); Henry Livingston Thompson (approx. 0.2 miles away); Robert W. Montgomery (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Houston.
 
Also see . . .  Lewis, Joseph Vance (1863–1925).
In 1907 Lewis hired Lincoln R. Jones, a prominent African-American builder and contractor to construct a home for him and his wife. “Van Court,” their one-story wood frame cottage was located on 1218 Wilson at Andrews in Freedmen’s Town. His home was strategically located across from the streetcar stop so that potential clients would have no problem getting to him. Source: The Handbook of Texas
(Submitted on April 14, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.) 
 
J. Vance Lewis image. Click for full size.
Public Domain, 1910
4. J. Vance Lewis
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on April 14, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas. This page has been viewed 43 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on April 12, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.   4. submitted on April 14, 2021, by James Hulse of Medina, Texas.

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May. 13, 2021