Preservation Austin’s 2022 Homes Tour is trying something a bit different this spring — out of six stops along the event, only one is a house. With that in mind, the tour’s theme this year is “Out of the House,” and this fundraising event will provide its guests with a look inside an eclectic group of historic spaces the preservation nonprofit believes are representative of the people and movements that shaped Austin’s history, perhaps often more than the individual homes usually presented. It’s an exciting direction for this event, since there’s plenty of underrated historic architecture in Austin outside the bounds of posh bungalows and downtown lofts — so let’s take a look and see what we’ll see when the tour kicks off next month on Saturday, April 30:
John & Drucie Chase Building
A midcentury masterpiece built by trailblazing Black architect John S. Chase in 1952, this building at 1191 Navasota Street in East Austin represents one of Chase’s most prominent commercial works. Previously home to the Teachers State Association of Texas and later a neighborhood beauty salon, the recent acquisition of the site as the new headquarters of the University of Texas Center for Community Engagement, the building has been meticulously restored and renamed for Mr. Chase and his wife to recognize his legacy as the university’s most historically pioneering architecture graduate. Tour attendees will be among the first to see the restored interior after the completion of the structure’s renovation work last year.
Travis County Probate Courthouse
Built in 1936 with New Deal funds in the iconic PWA Moderne style represented in many other government buildings around the city, the former U.S. Courthouse at 200 West Eighth Street is yet another contribution to Austin’s downtown fabric by prominent Depression-era architect Charles Henry Page. Recently renovated for use as Travis County’s Probate Courthouse, the building includes a rich use of marble and wood finishes along with a number of Art Deco-style finishes and a signature spiral staircase leading to the stunning vaulted ceilings of the main courtroom.
A 1911 school building in the heart of Hyde Park, the Baker School is now owned by the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, renovated for use as creative office space for the company’s corporate headquarters — and these spaces still retain charming elements of the building’s past, including lockers and chalkboards.
This 1930s Craftsman-style bungalow on East Cesar Chavez Street has the distinction of being the tour’s only building that once actually served as a home — but the space is more historically relevant than most, as the longtime home of local Chicano activist Richard Moya, the first Mexican American Austinite to attain public office in the city and Travis County in 1970. After a stint as creative offices, the bungalow now serves as an event space.
Wesley United Methodist Church
Home to the city’s oldest congregation dating back to the city’s growing freedmen population in 1865, Wesley United Methodist Church relocated from its home downtown to a new church at 1164 San Bernard Street in East Austin in 1929 after the relocation of city services for Black people in this district as described in the infamous 1928 city plan. This Gothic Revival-style church is renowned for its exposed interior beams and stained glass windows, persisting as a site of active worship and community for more than 150 years.
Castle Court Offices
Part of the former Texas Military Institute campus that gave Castle Hill its castle, this 1873 rubble limestone building originally served as the institute’s kitchen and mess hall, but has been restored for use as private office space with incredible views of the downtown skyline.