AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin is paying respects to one of its earliest black students.

John Saunders Chase was the first African American student to attend UT’s School of Architecture. His first commercial building design still stands in East Austin today 66 years later.

Built in 1952, the building served as the headquarters for the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas. It was later added to the National Register of Historic Places.

UT President Greg Fenves said the school wants to preserve the building and commemorate Chase’s influence as an architect. The University purchased the 1,450-square-foot building on 1191 Navasota St. in East Austin.

Chase was also the first African American to receive his license for architecture in Texas.

The building will serve as a Community Engagement Center as a part of the university’s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement.

“Chase’s architecture has left an indelible mark on communities in Austin and throughout Texas,” said UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves. “By preserving this historic building, the university can commemorate Chase’s influence as an architect, especially in the East Austin community, and his legacy as one of UT’s first African American students.”