Thursday, November 8, 2012

Out & About: Googie-style gazebo by lake back in pristine condition

Built by the Women in Construction in 1970, the Fannie Davis Gazebo anchors lake trail 

American-Statesman Staff 

Austin_photo: places_outdoors_women in construciton pavilion_park
Photo from Culture Map Austin, courtesy of Austin Parks and Recreation.
Sunshine sparkled through the three revived fountains. A forgiving wind blew through the jagged overhangs that define the octagonal structure that sits behind a kidney-shaped pond.

Lovers of the Fannie Davis Gazebo couldn’t have picked a better day to rededicate the 1970 edifice, the first structure built on Lady Bird Lake after the Longhorn Dam was completed.

On Oct. 27, the original builders — and those who protected it through the years — gathered just south of the pool to recount the story of the modernist gazebo, which on several occasions faced removal or radical redesign. Every time, the mighty force that conceived and built it — the Austin chapter of Women in Construction — intervened.

Read more on Austin 360 

Photo of re-dedication shared by Charles Peveto


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Photos from Mid Tex Mod's Tour Day

On Friday, October 5, 2012, Mid Tex Mod helped kick of Docomomo US's national tour day.

The event was held at the First Baptist Church at 901 Trinity Street, in downtown Austin, Texas. The church was constructed in 1969-70 and designed by Barnes, Landes, Goodman and Youngblood.

Bell tower at First Baptist Church. The tower contains the original bell from the 
first First Baptist Church, now demolished. Photo by Charles Peveto

 Photo by Charles Peveto.
Building dedication plaque. Photo by Charles Peveto.

Ms. Mod at the podium. Photo by Charles Peveto.
Anna Mod of Houston Mod spoke about the history of modern architecture in Houston and presented her new book, Building Modern Houston. Her talk was a whirlwind tour that included the story of the Astrodome, landmarks of NASA history, architecture of private homes and post-war suburban expansion. It included Houston's earliest modern-era skyscrapers that transformed the Houston skyline, among other fascinating adventures in Texas modernism.
Photo contributed by Emily Ardoin.

Anna Mod signs copies of her book. Photo by Charles Peveto.

After the talk, Jack Goodman gave attendees a special tour of the First Baptist Church. Mr. Goodman was an engineer and partner in the firm that designed the church. Read or contribute more about the First Baptist Church on the Austin Historical Survey Wiki.

Photo by Emily Ardoin.
Mr. Goodman talks about the design of the church. Photo by Jessica Anderson.
Photo by Jessica Anderson.
Photo by Jessica Anderson.
Photo by Jessica Anderson.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mark your calendar! Oct 5. Building Modern Houston and Tour of First Baptist Church

Anna Mod will take you on a slideshow tour of Building Modern HoustonThen join a walking tour of First Baptist Church with Jack Goodman.

Friday, October 5, 2012
6:30 pm
The Chapel at First Baptist Church

901 Trinity Street
Austin, Texas

(Read and contribute information about the First Baptist Church on the Austin Historical Survey Wiki.)

AIA Homes Tour

AIA Austin is holding its 26th Annual Homes Tour the weekend of October 6-7, 2012.  The tour showcases 13 new and newly-renovated homes from across the Austin area. The two-day self-guided tour celebrates the diverse and stunning design talent of Austin’s local architects, with both traditional and contemporary designs.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Have Seen the Future: Norman Bel Geddes Designs America

Exhibit at the Harry Ransom Center
University of Texas at Austin 

September 11, 2012 – January 6, 2013
More information

Sunday, September 16, 2012

(Oct 5) Building Modern Houston and Designer-led Tour of First Baptist Church

All across the country, Docomomo US chapters will host tours, lectures, and other events that celebrate the Modern Movement for Tour Day 2012. Mid Tex Mod and the University of Texas at Austin Graduate Program in Historic Preservation will host:

Building Modern Houston
by Anna Mod
 Friday, October 5, 2012
6:30 pm

Chapel at First Baptist Church
901 Trinity Street
Austin, Texas 

Suggested donation of $5-$10 

Move from Houston modernism to Austin brutalism without changing venue. After the lecture, you will have a unique opportunity to tour the gorgeous First Baptist Church. This special tour will be led by one of its original designers, Jack Goodman.
Highlights of Building Modern Houston include:
  • The story of the Houston Astrodome
  • Landmarks of Houston’s NASA history
  • Architecture of private homes and post-war suburban expansion
  • Houston's earliest modern-era skyscrapers that transformed the city's skyline
  • The surviving treasures of the Richmond Avenue corridor
  • Philip Johnson and his contemporaries in Houston   
Anna Mod grew up in Houston. She is a 1986 graduate of Tulane University with a BA in Art History and Latin American Studies. Her graduate degree in Historic Preservation is from the University of Vermont in Burlington. She is currently a Historic Preservation Specialist at SWCA Environmental Consultants in Houston.

Mod is a board member of The Heritage Society (Houston) and Texas Dance Hall Preservation.  She is published in Cite and Texas Architect magazines and is a contributing author of Buildings of Texas, vol. I, part of the national series Buildings of the United States published by the Society of Architectural Historians and due out in April 2012. She has taught historic preservation courses at the architecture colleges at Prairie View and the University of Houston. 

Jack Goodman graduated from the University of Texas School of Engineering. His  Architectural / Engineerin Firm is BLGY, Inc., which was started in 1955. He retired in 1999. 

Special thanks to 

S.A.'s roadside treasures worth saving

Remember Cool Crest? The iconic miniature golf course on Fredericksburg Road, built in 1937, may reopen after a five-year hiatus. Cool Crest is a beloved local business whose popularity is fueled by nostalgia, but it is also historically significant, recognized by the city as a Designated Historic Landmark. It may even be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places as one of the oldest intact miniature golf courses in Texas, if not the nation.

Read more:

Friday, September 7, 2012

Roadside Treasures - Buildings of the Automotive Era

Curious about kitschy, quirky, and cool roadside architecture? The San Antonio Conservation Society and the UTSA College of Architecture's Center for Cultural Sustainability are sponsoring a seminar focusing on auto-oriented buildings and structures of the twentieth century. Saturday, September 15th. More information and to register.

Chester Liebs, author of Mainstreet to Miracle Mile: American Roadside Architecture will be keynote speaker. Liebs will also speak at the University of Texas at Austin on Secrets of Japanese Cities the World Admires on Thursday, September 13th at 5 pm. Free! More information.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Exhibit Reception: Austin's Deco and Moderne Legacy

Exhibit Title

Join AIA Austin, the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art Texas, and Mid Tex Mod for this special event!

Don't miss this evening reception for the current exhibit, Deco and Moderne: Austin Architecture in the 1930s, on loan from the Austin History Center. Jim Parsons and David Bush, authors of several books including Hill Country Deco: Modernistic Architecture of Central Texas, will join us for this special event.

Thursday, September 6th
6:00pm - 8:00pm
Austin Center for Architecture, 801 W. 12th Street
RSVP to Lauren or call 452.4332

Jim Parsons is the director of special projects and walking tours chair for Preservation Houston. He also works as a freelance writer, editor, and photographer.

David Bush developed his lifelong interest in historic architecture while growing up in New Orleans. He has worked professionally in preservation since 1990, primarily at Galveston Historical Foundation and Preservation Houston.

David Bush and Jim Parsons have co-authored three books together, most recently Hill Country Deco: Modernistic Architecture of Central Texas, published by TCU Press in 2010. Their newest book, Fair Park Deco: Art and Architecture of the Texas Centennial Exposition, is due from TCU Press in October 2012.

Friday, June 15, 2012

MidC open house in Austin


Sunday June 17th 2 - 4pm
Mid-Century Modern Renovation
Maund House, 1967

Mid-Century Modern Renovation

4605 Ridge Oak Drive
Austin, TX 78731

View Map
Maund House, 1967

What the Listing Agent has to say about the property:
Stunning modern classic. Updated for fabulous entertaining & living .6 acre lot, gated. One story, terrazo tile, soaring ceilings, unique fireplace. Gorgeous glass tile master bath with walk-in shower. Covered veranda, real bar! Silestone island kitchen with recent Viking & Electrolux appliances, amazing storage. Panoramic city view, sweeping back lawn. Courtyard entry, walls of glass across back to view. Recent HVACs, paint, carpet, Fleetwood sliding glass doors. Sep. office w/ half bath. Quiet street.

Listing Agent:
Dana Dean
Gottesman Residential Real Estate

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Help Launch the Austin Historical Survey Wiki with Your Knowledge of Mid-century Modern!

Photo of a church in East Austin designed by architect John Chase. This photo was taken
in a 2001 survey of the Chestnut neighborhood. Do you know more about the history
and architecture of this church? Add information to this place record on the
 Austin Historical Survey Wiki. Look for other modern gems and share your knowledge
 on the Wiki.
The City of Austin and the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture will celebrate the official launch of a new survey web tool to identify historic resources. The Austin Historical Survey Wiki is a web experiment in open government. It offers historians, city officials, preservationists, neighborhood residents, and mid-century modern aficionados an opportunity to work together to discover and share Austin's historic places. 

Come to the official launch celebration:
Monday, June 4, 2012
noon - 1:00
City Council Chambers
Austin City Hall

The Wiki provides an important opportunity for mid-century enthusiasts to help the City of Austin identify modern resources. Any registered user can contribute information. This is your chance to share information about the places that you value. You can upload photographs and scanned documents. Once you contribute information, it goes to a moderator and is typically posted within 24-48 hours.

You can browse the places already on the Wiki and add more.
Use Advance Search on the Search Places page to find modern buildings already on the Wiki. Once you have found them, you can add more information. If something isn't there, add it.

If you would like to contribute to the identification of mid-century modern in Austin, tag places with "20th-Century Modern Design."

The Wiki offers the ability for direct participation in identifying the places that Austinites value. This is your chance to get involved as a Wiki historian. Go to to try it out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Heroic Concrete from Boston to Orange County to Central Texas

(c) Kim Barker

At the San Antonio Conservation Society's seminar Mid-Century Modern: It's about Time, Heroic Concrete was mentioned as a new, alternative term for Brutalism. Brutalism is a style of architecture that was popular from the late 1950s to 1970s. The term comes from beton brute or "rough concrete." A few years ago a group of architects in Boston organized a show to highlight the beauty of concrete buildings of this era. They dubbed this period of concrete buildings - the era of Heroic Concrete.

There are prominent efforts to save iconic examples of Brutalism (or Heroic Concrete), including an effort to save the Orange County Government Center in California from demolition. The "Brutalism is Beautiful" image above is a screen print of this building designed by Kim Barker, who is a local preservationist who lives and works in Austin.

Central Texas examples of brutalism include the School of Nursing building at the University at Texas at Austin, the First Baptist Church at 901 Trinity St. in Austin, and the Institute of Texan Cultures in San Antonio. What are other good examples of heroic concrete in Central Texas? Please comment below.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Police Headquarters Building to be Demolished

It is very sad to read about the looming demolition of another unique modern building in San Antonio. From the Downtown Blog:

City seeks contractor for SAPD HQ demo

The construction of the public safety headquarters, West Nueva Street and South Santa Rosa Avenue, was the first indicator that, indeed, the ball was rolling on a land-swap deal between the city and the U.S. government.
What will become the headquarters for the police and fire departments is on schedule to be operational by September, according to the city.

Now, the city has issued a request for proposals for the demolition and environmental abatement of the current police headquarters, 214 W. Nueva St., after, of course, the police finally move.

The demolition is scheduled for completion by early 2013.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Now Available: Watch Video of Lecture about Edward Durell Stone

A video of Hicks Stone's lecture on the life, works, and significance of his father's work is now available on-line. The lecture provides important insights into the life of Edward Durell Stone. This lecture was given at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture on April 17, 2012. Unfortunately, the introduction is a little hard to hear at the beginning of this recording. Hicks Stone's come in loud and clear starting around 5 min 30 sec. Read more about the events that day.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building in Austin Featured by National Park Service

The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building in Austin was featured as the Weekly Highlight on the National Register of Historic Places Program website. The nomination was written by Emily Ray, a graduate student in the University of Texas at Austin's Historic Preservation program. She drafted the nomination while taking a National Register course taught by Greg Smith of the Texas Historical Commission.

About the building: "The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building was built in 1956 as the international office of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, an organization founded in 1929 to improve women’s opportunities in the field of education. Organized by twelve women in Austin, Texas, the Delta Kappa Gamma Society expanded to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Canada to include a membership of 72,021 women by 1960.  The Delta Kappa Gamma Society International Headquarters Building continues to serve its original function today. The building is important to educational history as the international headquarters of a significant organization that supports the role of women in education through scholarships and fellowship programs. The Delta Kappa Gamma Society was conceived by a female University of Texas professor who envisioned equal opportunities for women educators." Read more on the National Parks Service website.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mid-century Modern: It’s About Time

Seminar by the San Antonio Conservation Society
Friday, May 4, 2012
AIA- San Antonio Center for Architecture
200 East Grayson Street
Located in the Pearl Full Goods Building

Mid-century modern (1930’s to 1970) architecture and design is coming of age in San Antonio. As part of National Preservation Month, the San Antonio Conservation Society is convening a half-day seminar, with optional bus/walking tour, to heighten awareness of this dynamic period in San Antonio’s architectural history. By engaging organizations and institutions with a common interest in this period and with an audience of design professionals, students, and laypersons alike, the goal is to weave the history of mid-twentieth century design into the
tapestry of San Antonio’s past as well as its future.

All events begin at the AIA-San Antonio Center for Architecture. Free parking is available in the Koehler Garage on Level 3 and above. Enter the Pearl complex off East Grayson Street and follow signs to the garage.

From the San Antonio Downtown Blog: Conservation Society opposes demolition of Institute of Texan Cultures, Wood Courthouse

Quoted from a 04/18/2012 post by Benjamin Olivo

"Wreckage — a[nd] lots of it — was on the minds of planners when they were crafting the master plan for HemisFair Park. For better or worse, the document calls for the demolition of the western portion of the Convention Center, and the complete leveling of the John Wood Courthouse and the Institute of Texan Cultures. The new ITC would take up residence near the northwest corner of the park.

On March 21, the San Antonio Conservation Society’s board amended its 2009 stance, and now opposes the demolition of the ITC and courthouse:

In particular we support the retention and rehabilitation of:
• The Tower of the Americas
• The Institute of Texan Cultures
• The Wood Courthouse
Addendum to the San Antonio Conservation Society March 6, 2009 Position Paper on the HemisFair Park Master Plan"

Read more on the San Antonio Downtown Blog

Mathis and Ford Homes: A grand tour for the historic preservation enthusiast

Saturday, May 19th from 10:00am – 1:00pm

Join Villa Finale’s Curator, Meg Nowack, for a grand tour of preservationist Walter Mathis and architect O'Neil Ford’s homes. Ford and Mathis forged a friendship over historic buildings, a shared venture about which they both were very passionate.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. at the front gate of Villa Finale, Mathis’s beloved home in the King William National Historic District, where the group will take a tour of the house and learn about the influence Mathis and Ford had upon each other. After which, Nowack will guide the group down the street to Ford’s former office at 526 King William to view the exterior of the now-private residence. The grand tour will conclude with a drive to O'Neil and Wanda Ford’s fantastic and historic former residence at 7 Willow Way, near the Mission San Jose. The unique house is now the home of native San Antonian and local real estate developer, James Lifshutz, who restored it in 2005. Guests will be provided with drinks and a boxed lunch to enjoy in the intriguing gardens of Willow Way. Lifshutz will conclude the afternoon with an anecdote-filled tour of the Ford estate. What better way to spend a Saturday during Preservation Month!

Space is limited. Admissions must be paid by Friday, May 18th at 12:00pm. Persons signing up by 4:30pm on Thursday, May 17th will have the opportunity to select from one of six boxed lunches to enjoy at O’Neil Ford’s Willow Way. Guests with paid admissions meet at the front gate of Villa Finale, 401 King William Street and drive themselves to Willow Way: directions will be provided. Carpooling is encouraged.

Admission: $50.00 for members of Villa Finale or the National Trust; $60.00 for non-members

All admissions sold at the Villa Finale Visitor Center, 122 Madison Street.

Call (210) 223-9800 for more information or to make your reservation.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

East Austin History Walk and Talk

Thanks to all who joined us on the East Austin History Walk and Talk tour (aka Jane's Walk Tour). There was an excellent turn out, even with the mid-day thunderstorm. The tour was an epic 6 hours with a delicious stop at Casa Colombia.

Our tour guides were Dr. Eliot Tretter and Dr. Fred McGhee. We benefited from their deep knowledge, including Dr. McGhee's expertise as an anthropologist and historian of public housing and Dr. Tretter's research on the history and geography of segregation and neighborhood change. They shared important insights into the history of East Austin, from its early development to the public housing, urban renewal, and planning initiatives that shaped it at the mid-twentieth century and into the recent past. Here is a link to the hefty and in-depth tour packet [pdf] provided by Dr. Tretter. This is the tour map [jpg], which shows stops along our walking route.

The tour was in conjunction with the national network of tours that honor the memory of Jane Jacobs and her fight to preserve the vital neighborhoods of New York City from the ravages of planning efforts that failed to take into account the real lives of the people they claimed to help. On our tour we learned about the complex history of planning in Austin, from progressive efforts to genuinely help low income communities to blatant acts of racism and segregation.

Thank you to Dr. Eliot Tretter, Dr. Fred McGhee, Andrea Roberts (lead tour organizer), Josh Conrad (tour cartographer), and everyone who came on the tour for making this tour a success.

One of the attendees beat us to posting a blog entry. See more on Ryan Pollack's blog entry and Andrea Robert's blog.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Preservation Texas declares April Mod Month!

Preservation Texas recognizes April as Mod Month. Read more about this Texas-wide celebration of modern resources.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hear Edward Durell Stone's Accomplishments, Personal Struggles, Relationships (April 17)

Images courtesy of Hicks Stone

On Tuesday, April 17, there will be two exceptional opportunities to learn about Edward Durell Stone and experience his architectural legacy. Author and architect Hicks Stone is visiting Austin to talk about his book, Edward Durell Stone: A Son's Untold Story of a Legendary Architect.

The book represents a candid story of Edward Durell Stone's accomplishments, personal struggles, and relationships from the perspective of the person best equipped to share them, Stone's own son.

Special Book-signing EventTuesday, April 17, 2:30-3:30
The Westgate Tower
1122 Colorado Street


Hicks Stone will be available for a special book-signing at the lobby of the historic Westgate Tower. This is an opportunity to meet Hicks Stone in the only building in Austin designed by Edward Durell Stone. Mr. Stone will say a few words about his first visit to this landmark.

The Westgate Tower was listed on the National Register for Historic Places in 2010. The plaque will be available for viewing at this special event. More information is available on the National Trust's for Historic Preservation blog.

The book will be available for purchase ($85+tax). Cash or check are preferred. Credit cards will be accepted. The book can also be purchased in advance at the Austin Center for Architecture at 801 W 12th. Check the AIA-Austin website for hours or call 512.452.4332.

Lecture at the University of Texas at Austin
Tuesday, April 17, 5:00-6:00 pm

Goldsmith Hall, University of Texas at Austin

Hicks Stone will give a lecture on his father's life and work at 5:00 pm at Goldsmith Lecture Hall at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Parking is available on the street and at the nearby UT Coop Bookstore parking garage at 2214 San Antonio Street.

The lecture and book signing was organized by Mid Tex Mod in collaboration with Preservation Texas, AIA-Austin, and the UT-Austin Student Historic Preservation Association. The events are supported by the Goldsmith Society of the University of Texas School of Architecture, the North Texas chapter of Docomomo US, Gay and Lee Gaddis, JP Gumbles, Charles Peveto and the Westgate Condo Association.

Hicks Stone is also speaking in Houston and Dallas organized by Houston Mod and the North Texas Chapter Docomomo US.

More About the book
From the publisher: "Among the iconic projects for which Stone is responsible are The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the U.S.Embassy in New Delhi, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. But a negative reception among the architectural community often accompanied his popular and commercial successes, a double edge that continues to inform his legacy. Hicks Stone addresses a body of work that has been largely neglected, if not outright misunderstood. In answer to the chorus of criticism about the master architect’s works, Hicks Stone writes: 'I believe that my perspective as a son and architect offers me a unique and privileged position to address many of these bromidic and reflexive perceptions.'"

Edward Durell Stone's Architecture in Texas
More information about Edward Durell Stone