20th-Century Houses in Austin’s Pemberton Heights
Explore a mélange of 20th-century architecture in this historic neighborhood in the heart of Austin, Texas.
Story and photos by James C. Massey & Shirley Maxwell
“We have a multi-generational neighborhood,” say residents John and Candace Volz. “Young folks who grew up here come back to raise their families near their parents’ homes.”
Wedged between the MoPac Expressway and Pease District Park, Pemberton Heights and its sister neighborhoods of Enfield and Bryker Woods lie in the Old West Austin Historic District. In the 1920s, this began as a diverse community of cottages and mansions. Building continued into the 1940s and ’50s. The 1970s expressway construction destroyed a hundred West Austin houses, but Pemberton Heights seems changeless, with curving streets and tiny triangular parks. Close to the university, downtown Austin, and the Capitol, this is a prestigious address. Like Austin itself, however, Pemberton Heights accommodates newcomers and loyal old-timers.
Published in: Old-House Journal December 2013
Popular from Florida to California, Mediterranean houses are seen less frequently than Colonial Revivals in Austin. This style is more restrained than Spanish and Mission Revival styles. Hallmarks include a barrel-tile roof, console brackets, white stucco, and round arches on windows and doors.
This ubiquitous style recalling 18th-century architecture of the eastern U.S. is common here, showing that Colonial Revival enthusiasm reached Texas. This side-hall house with a “garrison” second floor is based on a 17th-century New England form. The first floor is masonry, the second clapboarded.
This horizontal type was the cornerstone of a post-World War II housing boom. With a full-width front porch on grade, this one updates the traditional Southwest ranch for the 1960s. The door is flanked by sidelights, and double-hung windows are floor-length, blending the 20th century with old Texas.
Featuring pleasant, soft honey tones, Austin limestone graces this 1936 house. Still widely used, this limestone helps define the character of the area. The age of the house and the dominance of face-laid stone suggest that it has a stone veneer, rather than solid walls of edge-laid blocks.
Reminiscent of 19th-century Southern mansions, houses with two-story colonnaded porches are scattered throughout the neighborhood. This 1940 porch is wide and shallow. Floor-to-ceiling windows on the first level are typical of the style.
Tudor, or Old English, styles are common throughout the Old West Austin Historic District. This one is emblematic of the style, with multiple gables in the roof, Flemish-bond red-brick walls, and stone-dressed window bays with mullions.