ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Before I-40 extended to Wyoming and beyond, there was the East End addition. It was 144 acres of land that would become Albuquerque’s first African American suburb.
“They wanted it to be nice area where everybody could build homes and buy nice homes. They envisioned shopping centers, churches… a community,” explained Brenda Dabney.
Brenda Dabney’s grandfather Henry Outley was a homesteader with over 100 acres of land.
“The ranch was right there on Wyoming and the freeway and Pennslyvania. That’s where our ranch was,” says Dabney.
Outley and the Fraternal Aid Society of Black Businessmen set out to make suburban life a reality for African Americans, but getting a loan for the 144 acre project in 1938 was impossible due to laws written to discriminate against people of color.
Outley passed away before watching his development come to fruition.
Outley’s daughter, Virginia Outley Ballou, got the project to build 16 houses on three blocks of land in 1951. She did so with the help of J.S. Jones, a black architect and builder in Phoenix.
“She had a hard time trying to get people to move out there,” says Dabney.
97-year-old Oscar Jones is still a resident of the East End Addition.
“I was one of the first,” Jones says. “And it was 16 houses at the time.”
Jones was one of the first neighbors to welcome Rubin Phillips and his family to the neighborhood.
“When my dad came, he was a porter. He was on the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe and he brought us from Clovis,” says Lavonne Phillips Harris. “Dirt road, Lomas was dirt, tumbleweeds, horrible dust storms I remember…”
The neighborhood has started to fade with time, but those who once called the community home hope to have it registered as a historical site.
A sign calling the East Addition a historical site is up, but at this point it is not recognized as such in the city.
“They were going to make this whole neighborhood a historical site, but it has not gone through. We’re not sure where the bottleneck is but the gentleman helping us, it’s like he disappeared,” says Larry Phillips.
Talk about taking up the cause of making the East Addition a historical sight is heating up again.
Five homes have been sold and torn down as businesses in the area continue to gobble up property.
“It makes me feel sick. Mom and dad sold the house and the people that they sold it to turned around and sold it to the car lot,” says Linda Slack.
If the neighborhood bid to become a historical site fails, those who called the East Addition home will still have their memories to hold onto.
“You know we all like to kind of leave a little bit of our heritage somewhere and… that’s the sad part,” says Harris.