Forty years ago, people had to be convinced to buy a house in Hyde Park. The neighborhood’s older homes were filled with renters and poor UT students, and PBS had not yet started the series “This Old House.” At that time, the idea of restoring or remodeling vintage homes was daunting. Many homes became neglected and were torn down, and apartments began appearing in their place. Hyde Park housing, which was built predominantly from the 1890s to the 1930s, was not considered historic; it was “old.”
But the truly adventurous became inspired by the challenges of owning and restoring an older house. They purchased these homes for a song, and then poured blood, sweat and tears into making them more habitable. They began leading annual walking tours to point out their successes and important landmarks, and they became evangelists for the history, architecture and period details of what has now become one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Central Austin. Over the years, the neighborhood tour has opened the doors of homes that are architecturally remarkable and simple, homes that are restored and modernized, and homes that had renowned and working-class owners.
The homes tour is the largest fundraiser for the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association, and hundreds of volunteers come together to plan and showcase the historic neighborhood.
The Hyde Park Homes Tour is generously presented by Suzanne Pringle of Kuper Sotheby’s International Realty, and is also supported by sponsor donations and ticket sales.
On Sunday, Nov. 12, the Historic Hyde Park Homes Tour will mark its 40th celebration. In reaching this milestone, the neighborhood is featuring seven outstanding homes that represent what is wonderfully creative about Austin’s Hyde Park. The homes that illustrate this year’s theme, “Forty, Funky, and Fabulous,” include:
Constructed in 1903, this landmark cottage has Colonial Revival and Queen Anne influences. It is also purple. And it has goats and chickens roaming the yard. And it was the inspiration for this year’s theme.
William T. & Valerie Mansbendel Williams House
In 1934, famed master woodcarver Peter Mansbendel gave this home as a wedding gift to his daughter and her new husband. The city and state landmark is filled with period details and Mansbendel’s artistic flourishes, including the likenesses of the bride and groom carved into the stone facade of the house.
Modern metal sculptures flood the front, back and side gardens of this 1927 bubblegum-and-lime-green bungalow. A decade after it was built, the owners added an Austin Stone garage apartment, the accessory dwelling unit (ADU) of the Great Depression.
This outstanding 1902 Colonial Revival features turned wooden balustrades, columns with Doric capitals, and overlay Queen Anne underpinnings. It is also a city landmark that is featured on the tour for the first time in 36 years.
This 1917 bungalow is leaving traditional behind. Although it belonged to the same family for 68 years, the new owners are shaking things up, starting with its hot pink and baby blue exterior.
This 1928 Tudor Revival, once home to Lady Bird Johnson’s hairdresser, now features Louisiana artwork and an extensive rain garden (complete with faeries).
This 1896, late-Victorian city and state landmark is an excellent and unusually intact example of the decorative Eastlake Style. The home also has six fireplaces, soaring 12-foot ceilings, a wrap-around verandah, William Morris-influenced details, and a vast bedroom suite in the attic.