Originally constructed as a county jail in 1873, the city of San Marcos acquired this building in 1885 and turned it into a community recreation center after the county built a stone replacement jail. The Calaboose (from the Spanish word meaning dungeon or local jail), as it came to be called, was enlarged in the 1940s and used as a World War II United Service Organization (USO) center for African American servicemen at a time when segregation kept black and Anglo soldiers from mingling. Local African American historian Johnnie Armstead fought to preserve the site. Her contributions included raising money for renovation, creating the museum, acquiring most of its artifacts and leading the effort to obtain a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark designation for the building.
Calaboose African American History Museum