In the 1900 block of Wallace Street is the Kinfolk House, representing an ordinary old house in the Polytechnic Quarter.
But far from it, the 100-year-old historic home is slowly delivering a local couple’s lofty dream of creating a family-friendly place of collaboration and community in an often-marginalized neighborhood made up mostly of black and Latino populations. In late February, husband-and-wife founders Sedrick and Letitia Huckaby opened the doors to the reimagined space.
Named after his intention to create family-like relationships, the house was previously owned by Sedrick’s late grandmother, Hallie Beatrice Carpenter, affectionately referred to as “Big Momma” by her friends and neighbors.
Acquiring the home after her passing, Sedrick and Letitia renovated the property over several years, giving it renewed life that will continue to uphold the longstanding traditions and meaningful relationships it once embraced.
“The intention is that the space will continue to live on as a collaborative space for the whole community,” said Kinfolk House manager Jessica Fuentes.
A nascent vision
Walking to the Kinfolk House, Letitia sat on the porch and greeted the new visitors.
Inside the house, the empty room in which Big Momma lived and died displayed several paintings by Sedrick. Sedrick and Letitia had removed the drywall from the house – once covered with wallpaper – and torn the carpet from the house Sedrick had visited growing up, making the wooden plank structure of the house more prominent.
An 18th-century French confessional doorway divided the entrance chamber from a large community hall that once housed two smaller chambers. The inviting space was light and airy compared to the rest of the house. Inside, several rows of salvaged wooden benches – brought from Big Momma’s church – faced the backyard, which the couple hope will serve as future seating for poetry readings, educational seminars and speaker events.
Although intended primarily as an artists’ space, Kinfolk House seeks to establish a new dialogue between community members and creatives from all disciplines, Fuentes says. Over time, the project will continue to evolve.
The 1-acre backyard will one day become a small garden, adorned with greenery, flowers and possibly sculptures created by local artists. Raised beds could one day feed nearby neighbors and friends.
“It’s a very organic space that we want to develop on its own,” says Fuentes. “We have a direction we’d like it to develop in, but we’re also kind of taking it day-to-day.”
The opening project, which kicked off March 5, combines Sedrick’s cavernous imagination and Letitia’s insightful vision, which only a photographer can so perfectly hone, with the depths of her family history.
Titled “Welcome,” the one-word name encompasses a double meaning of introduction to the inaugural project and homage to the family matriarch, whose maiden name was Welcome.
Presenting inside Kinfolk House until April 24, the couple’s collaborative project embraces Big Momma’s enduring legacy and showcases a collection of memorabilia and sound recordings alongside their own work.
Sedrick’s murals of his grandmother — many of whom couldn’t walk through the door without many twists — cover several years of his life. In the front room, a painting of her lying in bed hangs in the exact spot. A life-size papier-mâché sculpture of Big Momma, made from paper pulp, waits in the center of the dinner table, where her whole family would gather.
Other paintings throughout the house depict other people who lived and knew Big Momma’s house; many wore memorial shirts of others connected who have died.
“The project is really about the people who were here and the physical space itself,” says Fuentes. “And the paintings also helped reveal the history of the house.” She points out how one painting depicted a blue door embedded in the wall. It has since been removed but stood against the wall next to the painting.
Letitia’s work also paid homage to Big Momma’s past.
In a collection of large-scale landscape photographs, Letitia explores the grandmother’s life, documenting her journey from Big Momma’s hometown of Weimer, Texas to Waco along Highway 77 and then Waco in Fort Worth along Interstate 35.
Printed on fabric and displayed in oval threads, the photographs are embroidered in scarlet thread – a biblical reference to birthright, bloodlines and sacrifice, Letitia says.
“Some of my other work is specifically related to African American communities,” says Letitia. “But this one is tied to her and the life she led.”
Location: 1913 Wallace Street
- Monday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Sunday, noon – 5 p.m.
- By appointment subject to availability