Cocktail Party Series, Party No. 2 at The Academy July 27!

Last month’s cocktail party at the lovely Wilkins-Gullett House on Newning Avenue happened so The Academy Housespontaneously we neglected to post about it here, but we’re on top of this month’s party. Join us Friday, July 27, 5:30-7:30 at Hugh and Claudette Lowe’s lovely home, The Academy, also known as the Mather-Kirkland House, to visit with neighbors and enjoy a tasty beverage. The Ballards made such tasty cocktails at their party last month that, by popular request, Jimi Ballard will be making those again for us. It was a wonderful time to visit and benefit our historic district effort at the same time and raised $2,000.

This is a great way to meet other residents of Travis Heights and start creating a real community. A $20 donation is suggested.

Please spread the word and volunteer if you can–we need folks to work the day of the event with set-up, clean-up, greeting, etc. We also need donations of wine, beer and snacks and anything else that will help us defray costs and keep as much money as possible for our project.  Mostly, we need you to spread the word! Thank you!

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Meeting Wed. June 13, 7 p.m. at Twin Oaks Library

Sallie Day on a horse on Newning Avenue
On horseback, it’s not too far to the library!

We’ll update you on the status of our boundaries and application progress, as well as strategize about fundraising. Please come!!

Also, thank you to Elizabeth Brooks and Carrie Bills, our wonderful neighborhood realtors who donated $1,000 each to the effort. A big thank you to Robin Sanders, who also made a very generous donation. But…we still need about 4 times that to get things done in time for our November deadline for applying for our National Register listing.

We still desperately need a volunteer to help with grant applications–there is money out there but we need help to access it. The Heritage Society of Austin is offering us these resources but we can’t take advantage of them without you, whoever-you-are-grantwriter! Please, please, volunteer.

If you are still asking yourself, “But what can I do?” The first answer is Donate. It’s so easy online:

https://www.austincommunityfoundation.org/?nd=donate_detail&donation_id=125

Thank you!–Melanie Martinez

We need your help with grant writing

Travis Heights Trumpet Player
Oliver Heath

It’s been ages and we’ve been in a lull due to lack of funds, but I have been so shaken by losses in the neighborhood that I just had to make another push and get this ball rolling again. (Anyone who wants to help, PLEASE come forward!)

Despite it being a rough year for historic preservation in Austin, several neighborhoods such as Hyde Park (the largest Local Historic District with 650 properties, about half the size of our district) still managed to achieve LHD zoning and we want to follow their lead. With the war against tax abatements for historic landmarks continuing with a bleak outlook, including changes to the landmarks program that mean fewer properties can qualify, this makes Local Historic Districts all the more important.
Unfortunately, our neighborhood continues to lose its contributing properties. Since our survey a few years ago, we’ve lost nearly 10 percent of those important structures and have had to re-survey our boundaries. It appears that we have lost enough historic integrity on the north and northwest side of the proposed district that our boundaries need re-drawing and some of us, myself included here on the north end of Newning Avenue, may find ourselves outside of the proposed district now. We will be learning more about these changes at our next meeting. We’ll notify you as soon as we set the date and location.

Our preservation consultants, Casey Gallagher and Emily Reed, are working hard, though, to keep as many of us in the district as possible. On the positive side, some properties are coming into the period of significance (older than 50 years) and some have been restored so we can add those to our list of contributors. Still, the losses are greater than the gains.

We would like to submit our application as a National Register Historic District in November and foresee no problems with achieving that honor as long as we meet deadlines to pay our consultants to research and write our historic narrative. We hope there will be no controversy over this because it imposes no restrictions or requirements for property owners. They are also working on helping to create a starting point for our design standards to pursue a Local Historic District so we can start getting neighborhood input on those.

Besides finding some energetic volunteers, this is where our project needs the most help:
We need roughly $10,000 to meet these goals. If you are doing well and would like to make a big impact, please make a donation. If we had 10 people in the neighborhood motivated enough to give $1,000 each (or 20 who gave $500, etc.), we would have this work done in no time. So far, this hasn’t happened and I am losing heart that anyone will come up with that kind of money. Individual fundraisers have not yielded the large amounts we need to keep going and relieve our regular volunteers.
Also very important, we desperately need help from someone experienced with grant writing. We have found potential funding sources but the deadlines are June 1 and none of us are savvy at this. Can you or anyone you know help?! If so, please contact michele@historictravisheights.org.

I will let you know as soon as we schedule our next meeting. I know it’s hard for folks to attend meetings due to our many commitments, but if you want to tell me when is the best time to meet, I am willing to try and accommodate that–anything to get more help! At that meeting, we will update you on the new boundaries and design standards template and hope to get your input on fundraising strategies and our next steps. The slower we go on this, the more expensive the process and the more of our story we lose. So please help!—Melanie Martinez

Historic by Design

Here is your chance to tour the Alberto Garcia House, 1214 Newning Ave. You’ve seen it under construction for the last 20 years, now you can learn what went into its restoration from the contractors and craftspeople who did the work.

The Alberto Garcia House
The Alberto Garcia House

Thursday, October 6
6–7 p.m. Overview & Tour
7–8 p.m. Reception
$15 per guest benefits the Travis Heights-Fairview Park Historic District Project
Presented as part of Austin x Design
Buy Tickets Now!

Hanging in There

It’s hot and most of us are hibernating a bit or wrapping up summer vacations before school starts. However, we’re still working on our historic district. Please consider making time this fall to volunteer with our project and possibly take on a leadership role. We could use block captains for almost every street in the neighborhood. If you think someone else is doing it, it’s fair to assume they’re not. We need YOU to make this happen.

We are always in severe need of donations, as well, to pay our architectural historian for writing our history and nomination for the National Register Historic District application. If you give now, this is where your money will go.

Please make donations through the Austin Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, for the Travis Heights-Fairview Park Historic District Project.

Or if you’d rather mail a check, please send it to:

Travis Heights-Fairview Park Historic District
1712 E. Riverside Dr. PMB #188
Austin, TX 78741-1320

Please join our cause on Facebook, too!

Cocktail Party Fundraiser at the Historic Louis & Flossie John House

The John House
The Louis & Flossie John House
This mysterious house at 1924 Newning Avenue is finally having its story told. Come and learn more about it and its fascinating past at a fundraiser for our historic district effort.

It will be an afternoon affair on Sunday, May 23, from 3-5 p.m. Admission is $15.

The City of Austin’s Chief Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky will be there to share the home’s history.

Casey Gallagher will bring our brand-new database to show you. It includes all the work from our survey done last year, which so many of you helped to complete. This gets us closer to a historic district here, having finished such a large piece of the puzzle.

We could really use some volunteers to put this party on. Can you help in any way?

• Advertising & Marketing
• Sponsorships & Printing
• Food & Drinks
• Clean-up & Set-up
• Ticket Sales
• Docents
• Cocktail Party Music

Please consider helping, as well as spreading the word about this fun event! Contact Michele@HistoricTravisHeights.org if you can volunteer or donate in any way. Thank you!

Colorful Print for our Colorful Community

Travis Heights poster by Jon Pattillo
20" x 26" Serigraph Print by Jon Pattillo

Colorful hand-made serigraph prints ($45, 20″ x 26″) by Jon Pattillo of Fat Caddy Plus celebrate the sweetness of our historic neighborhood. Donate to our cause and decorate at the same time. E-mail Historic Travis Heights and we will get one or more of these signed, numbered works of art to you.

National Register Historic District on the Way

Survey map in hand, volunteer organizers met with Greg Smith of the Texas Historical Commission today to check in on our progress toward creating a National Register Historic District for Travis Heights-Fairview Park.

After assessing our progress, we learned we now need to breaking up the sections of our district into their separate subdivisions, and research and write about their context within the neighborhood and in Austin. If you’re good at writing and research, please consider volunteering.

Boy playing trumpet
Oliver plays trumpet at the Wilkins-Heath House

Thanks to our resident history research completed last year at the Austin History Center, we can now delve into the personal stories of our neighborhood that describe our history.

  • What is the story of South Austin’s development, as well as in our own neighborhood?
  • What kind of people lived here and what did they do?
  • Are the street patterns built around the Garden Plan, with meandering routes, or on a grid?

These are types of topics we need to include in our historical narrative for our application. We’ll also need to crunch the numbers from our survey, such as how many types of different architectural styles are represented.  All of this will inform the final historical narrative.

The other steps needed to complete our National Register application mostly include writing and editing. If you are interested in helping our project by donating your research and editing skills, please contact Melanie@historictravisheights.org.

If we can get this section of work done quickly, we can hand in our application to the state by November. It is a long process of editing and meetings but, optimistically,  if we meet that deadline, we may have our designation by this time next year.

The New Plan for Our Travis Heights-Fairview ParkHistoric District

South Congress Avenue
South Congress Avenue ca. 1900

Welcome to our new blog for the Travis Heights-Fairview Park Historic District, a neighborhood founded in Austin, Texas in the late 1880s.

Ask questions in the comments section and we will try to answer them as they come. We hope this space will be an informational platform and not a battleground. We think we’re the most laid-back neighborhood in Austin and we are proud to be Austin’s FIRST planned subdivision south of the river.

We’ve been working for the last five years to have our neighborhood designated as a Local Historic District and a National Register Historic District. it’s been a tough process getting there, however, because this is a new concept for The City of Austin and we are the largest neighborhood trying to win this designation.

Despite raising thousands of dollars to fund the professional help we needed to write the nomination and organize our survey and other requirements. it hasn’t been enough to keep our project funded. So we decided to end our contract with Preservation Central.

So far, we’re at a good point to review our application plan to be a National Register Historic District and are hopeful we can achieve that in the next year. Because this is a mainly honorific designation and imposes no restrictions or tax issues on residents, it is a less difficult process than for a Local Historic District. Meanwhile, we will be plugging away at the tasks needed to apply for a LHD.

We’re looking for extra help with this project and need you as much as ever. We need hands-on volunteers for data entry work on our survey database. We need proofreaders. We need scintillating minds for our Design Standards group. You will be trained well in any task so please don’t feel like you don’t know enough to help. You will have fun! If you can help with this, please e-mail Michele@historictravisheights.org.

Learn more at www.HistoricTravisHeights.org.