Source: Larry D. Moore via Wikimedia Commons
Pioneers began settling around the Colorado River way back in the 1830s. Since then, Austin, Texas has grown with incredible momentum. It took only until 1839 for the city to become the Capital of Texas. From its inception to today, Austin has housed some important history-makers. Their legacies are preserved not only by the impact they made but also by their houses. Most of these locations are now under the protection of the National Register of Historic Places, which enforces regulations that safeguard historic structures. Austin is so rich in history that entire districts of historic houses exist within the city. There are also houses rich with stories, some of which you can even buy. If you're lucky enough to find a historic house for sale, you could be buying an important piece of American history.
Bremond Block Historic District
This district is named after John and Pierre Bremond. They were some of the biggest banking and railroad tycoons of Texas. It is lined with rare Victorian houses built during the latter half of the 19th century. Some of the most socially exceptional bankers and merchandisers in Austin lived in the neighborhood. Famous residents that lived in the area include the Bremonds and their family. The Norths, another successful business family also had a home here. The neighborhood joined the National Register in 1970.
Hyde Park Historic District
Hyde Park has stashed away an expansive neighborhood of classically built houses. While quite a few of them have been renovated to fit modern needs, their architecture has been preserved. Its proximity to the University of Texas makes it a prime location for fraternities and sororities to establish roots. The mansion-like houses dotted throughout the neighborhood provide the perfect space for group living.
Shadow Lawn District
Southeastern Hyde Park is made up of a collection of houses built in the 1920s and 1930s called the Shadow Lawn Historic District. It's marked off by characteristic concrete markers that still stand. The houses boast architecture that recalls the Tudor period. Among them, you'll find bungalows built with superior masonry. Their construction makes them stand out from the other historic buildings of Hyde Park.
Elisabet Ney Studio and Museum
You'll also find the oldest art studio in Texas hidden within Hyde Park. Sculptor Elisabet Ney had the studio built in 1893 and lived and worked in it. It was purchased after her death by Ella and Joseph Dibrell for preservation. They in turn handed it over to the city to be put on the National Register.
Frank M. and Annie G. Covert House
Frank Covert, a successful automotive dealership owner, finished this home at the beginning of the 1900s. The house is a tribute to several architectural styles, including Romanesque and Revival ornamentation. After falling victim to dilapidation, it was revived by Dr. John and Ann Horan. In 1990, it was added to the National Register.
Old West Austin Historic District
Thanks to the development of the streetcar, Old West's Enfield, Pemberton Heights, and Bryker Woods neighborhoods became the center of car culture. The thrill of riding in automobiles brought a wealth of residents to the area. Most houses here were built in the early part of the 1900s. Among them, you'll find:
- Fisher-Gideon House, also known as Pemberton Castle
- Cruchon Home
- Judge Robert Lynn Batts House
All are designated as landmarks by the city of Austin. The district gained historic status in 2003.
Texas Governor's House
After standing for 152 years, the Governor's house almost fell victim to fire. In June of 2008, an arsonist tried to burn the whole thing down. After sustaining only partial damage, it is still the oldest continuously lived-in house in Austin. It was declared a National Landmark in 1974.
Daniel H. and William T. Caswell Houses
At the turn of the 20th century, Daniel Caswell moved to Austin to run his recently purchased oil company. He had a house built 1900 with a combination of Victorian, Colonial, and Chateau styles. It reached landmark status in 1984.
German immigrants Henry and Bertha Ziller bought this already built house and modified it in 1881. They passed it down through their family for 58 years before it was sold to another family. Its long history and unique ornamentation helped it gain landmark status in 2001.
Joseph Fischer built the Fischer House with his son Francis in 1882. As masonry contractors, they both knew how to construct a beautiful, quality home. They used limestone, which is abundant in Austin, to create a Victorian design. Landmark status was achieved in 1982.
Henry Hirshfeld House and Cottage
Henry Hirshfield, a prominent Jewish businessman, originally built the cottage for him and his wife. After their financial success, they hired architect John Andrewartha to build a proper two-story house. They now exist in combination as a testament to success. It became a landmark in 1962.