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Ken Breisch Photographs

 Item — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 0187

Scope and Contents

The Ken Breisch Collection consists of 60, 35mm slides showing buildings and streets in Fourth Ward Houston, Texas between 1983 and 1999. Images were taken by Ken Breisch. Includes images of streets which include Ruthven Street, Matthews Street, Andrews Street, and Robin Street.


  • 1983-1999


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce materials from the Ken Breisch Collection must be obtained from the African American Library at the Gregory School or the appropriate copyright holder.


Fourth Ward, also known as Freedmen’s Town, was the first Black settlement in Houston following emancipation after the Civil War. It was established as one of four wards of the City of Houston in 1839. It is located southwest of downtown Houston along the south bank of Buffalo Bayou. It extended south of Congress Avenue and west of Main Street to the city limits. The first freed slaves departed the Brazos River cotton plantations in 1866 and settled on the southern edge of Buffalo Bayou. The settlers of Freedmen’s Town paved the streets with bricks that they hand-made themselves and the residents provided their own services and utilities. The Gregory School, built in 1926, opened in Freedmen’s Town as the first public school for Blacks in Houston. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Fourth Ward was the center of Black cultural and professional life in the city. Starting in the 1930s, White institutions, businesses, housing developments, construction of Interstate 45, and gentrification encroached on Fourth Ward and displaced Black residents. In 1985, Fourth Ward was designated a site of the National Register of Historic Places. Freedmen’s Town is Houston’s oldest established African American community and was named Houston’s first heritage district in 2021.


Kenneth A. Breisch is a long term educator who writes and lectures about American architectural history and is a current member of the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission. He wrote the National Register Historic District Nomination for the Freedmen’s Town (Fourth Ward, Houston) Historic District. Dr. Breisch holds a Ph.D. from the University Michigan and is an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California, where he served as founder and Director of its Programs in Heritage Conservation from 1997-2011. Dr. Breisch has previous taught architectural history and served as the Director of Survey and Planning in the Texas State Historic Preservation Office in Austin, Texas from 1981-1986. He is a past President of the Society of Architectural Historians, has served on the boards for the Vernacular Architecture Forum and the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, was the Santa Monica Planning Commissioner from 1993-2000, and served on the Board of the Santa Monica Public Library from 2001-2014.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged material type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by: Ken Breisch, 2021

Related Materials

MSS 0118 Ben DeSoto Photograph Collection

MSS 0171 Elbert Howze Collection

PH 0020 Fourth Ward Photograph Collection

PH 0009 Anderson Hardy Fourth Ward Photograph Collection

Processing Information

Processed by: Emmalee Miller, 2021

MSS 0187 Ken Breisch Photographs
An inventory of records at the African American Library at the Gregory School, Houston Public Library
Emmalee Miller
October 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services Museum Grants for African American History and Culture (AAHC-FY21).

Repository Details

Part of the Gregory School Repository


The African American Library at the Gregory School
1300 Victor Street
Houston, Texas 77019
Houston Metropolitan Research Center
Houston Public Library
550 McKinney St.
Houston, Texas 77002