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John S. Chase

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Information about John S. Chase

Profile image of John S. Chase

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Architect

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Corn
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Pebble Beach, California
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
1/23/1925
Birth Location:
Annapolis, Maryland

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
Occupation(s):
Architect

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Corn
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Pebble Beach, California
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
1/23/1925
Birth Location:
Annapolis
See how John S. Chase is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Architect John Saunders Chase was born January 23, 1925, in Annapolis, Maryland. When his parents, Viola Hall Chase, a teacher and cook, and John S. Chase, Sr., a school principal and postal worker, separated, Chase was raised primarily by his mother. Every year at the United States Naval Academy graduation, Chase could earn $25 for each tossed hat he retrieved. At Bates High School, his teacher, Mr. Marchand, introduced Chase to architecture; he earned his B.S. degree from Hampton University in 1948, and became the first African American to enroll in and graduate from the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture in 1952.

Chase's professional career began the same year as his graduation when he was appointed assistant professor of architectural drafting at Texas Southern University, and founded John S. Chase, AIA Architect. Chase's early designs were for churches, schools, homes, and small public buildings.

Chase became the first African American licensed to practice architecture in the state of Texas, and later was the first African American to be admitted to the Texas Society of Architects, and the Houston Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Chase co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) along with 12 other black architects at the AIA convention in Detroit in 1971. When President Jimmy Carter selected him in 1980, Chase became the first African American to serve on the United States Commission on Fine Arts. Projects designed by Chase’s firm include: the George R. Brown Convention Center, the Washington Technical Institute, Links, Inc., National Headquarters, Delta Sigma Theta National Headquarters, the Harris County Astrodome Renovation, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. School of Humanities at Texas Southern University. Chase was later awarded a commission to design the United States Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia; a fifty million dollar complex.

Chase was elected to the AIA College of Fellows, was awarded the AIA Whitney M. Young Citation, and was the recipient of the NOMA Design for Excellence Award for four consecutive years. Chase also received the commendation for Meritorious Service by the Houston Independent School District, and the Honor Award for Architectural Excellence in School Design by the Texas Association of School Boards for his design of the Booker T. Washington High School. Chase and his wife, Drucie, raised three children together: John, Anthony and Saundria.

Chase passed away on March 29, 2012 at age 87.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating for John S. Chase's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - John S. Chase lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - John S. Chase talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - John S. Chase describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - John S. Chase talks about his parents' separation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - John S. Chase describes his father's personality and career
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - John S. Chase talks about his sister's family
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - John S. Chase describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - John S. Chase recalls the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Annapolis, Maryland
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - John S. Chase remembers his influential elementary school teachers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - John S. Chase remembers discovering his aspiration to be an architect
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - John S. Chase recalls his architectural mentors
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - John S. Chase remembers making his grandmother's tombstone
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - John S. Chase recalls collaborating with John T. Biggers at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - John S. Chase describes himself as a young man
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - John S. Chase talks about being jailed in Heflin, Alabama, pt.1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - John S. Chase talks about being jailed in Heflin, Alabama, pt.2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - John S. Chase recalls his time at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - John S. Chase recalls serving in World War II
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - John S. Chase recalls the segregation in the United States Army during World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - John S. Chase recalls the mistreatment of Japanese prisoners in World War II
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - John S. Chase remembers graduating from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia and his initial architectural career
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - John S. Chase talks about recruiting new clients by visiting churches
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - John S. Chase recalls his acceptance to the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas in the wake of Sweatt v. Painter, 1950
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - John S. Chase reflects on his experience at the newly integrated University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - John S. Chase reflects on being the first African American graduate of University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - John S. Chase talks about his alumni involvement with the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - John S. Chase remembers the trials and advantages of graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - John S. Chase tells about his initial professional success in Texas
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - John S. Chase describes his political involvement while working at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - John S. Chase remembers his time in the United Political Organization of Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - John S. Chase describes spending time with President Lyndon Baines Johnson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - John S. Chase remembers working on the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - John S. Chase gives his opinion of President Lyndon Baines Johnson
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - John S. Chase names his architectural works in Texas
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - John S. Chase talks about his architectural aesthetic
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - John S. Chase describes his current and past projects
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - John S. Chase describes his hopes for the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - John S. Chase reflects upon his life
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - John S. Chase describes his children
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - John S. Chase talks about his wife, Drucie Chase
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - John S. Chase talks about his mother and sister
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - John S. Chase reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - John S. Chase describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - John S. Chase narrates his photographs