“The Council funded the East Austin survey because it was clear that we needed to document and begin assisting neighborhoods as quickly as possible to preserve what remains of the built environment in ‘historic’ East Austin.”
The City of Austin’s Historic Preservation Office has been awarded an Underrepresented Communities Grant from the National Park Service. The $43,200 grant is one of 13 grants awarded across the country to increase the inventory of historic properties associated with communities underrepresented in the National Register of Historic Places.
In Austin, the grant will support conversations and events about historic preservation and community heritage in two historically significant African American and Hispanic neighborhoods in East Austin, as well as National Register historic district nominations for both neighborhoods.
The grant builds on the East Austin Historic Resources Survey completed in 2016, which identified 24 potential historic districts between I-35, Manor, Airport and Pleasant Valley, and Lady Bird Lake. It will expand collaborative partnerships with community groups and help set the standard for future community engagement.
“It’s encouraging to see the work regarding the documentation of historic properties recognized and rewarded,” said Council Member Ora Houston, who represents the northern part of the area covered by the survey. “The Council funded the East Austin survey because it was clear that we needed to document and begin assisting neighborhoods as quickly as possible to preserve what remains of the built environment in ‘historic’ East Austin.”
Historic preservation can help stabilize communities by slowing the pace of demolitions, preserving smaller-scale houses, and recognizing and celebrating community heritage and the stories that make places important.
While National Register designation is largely honorific, local designation as an individual historic landmark or a historic district includes design standards.
“We’re excited to see more resources dedicated to preserving the built heritage of our diverse communities,” said Council Member Pio Renteria, who represents the southern part of the survey area. “East Austin has a rich and complicated history, but it doesn’t include any local historic districts and only a few National Register historic districts to recognize and preserve those community stories.”
In addition to National Register nominations, the project will include community heritage interpretive projects that creatively leverage local history and culture to spark greater understanding and conversations about how the past influences the present and future.
The project will begin in summer 2018, with the focus neighborhoods to be selected then.