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November 24, 2020

Preservation Austin claims Streamline Moderne house as its new headquarters

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It’s only fitting.

After advocating for the preservation of the much loved house at 3805 Red River Street, an unusual example of residential Streamline Moderne architecture in Austin; raising the money to purchase it; getting it listed to the National Register of Historic Places; and spending yet more resources to renovate it and restore it to mid-century glory, Preservation Austin will now call the McFarland House home.

The non-profit organization will move its offices into the McFarland House in early 2022.

McFarland Hoouse
The distinctive fin with its porthole openings had to be repaired as its base as suffered water damage over the years. Tops on the preservation to-do list was replacing the severely cracked concrete foundation and re-grading the site. The lawn stood six inches above the house in many places, causing rain run-off toward the foundation which was shifted and cracked. All photographs Preservation Austin/Zillow.

Preservation Austin made contact with John McFarland, who was seven years old when his parents built the house in 1947. Family photos and other information McFarland provided revealed much about the house’s origin story and revealed the original color scheme — white, pale blue, and black.



Read more about the McFarland House at:

“A Streamline Dream Revived: A beloved Austin architectural landmark is nurtured back to its original sleek style”

Just under 2000-square-feet, the two-story house has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, though the small first floor bedroom functions more like a study. A large open living room is just inside the front door. An outside back staircase leads down to the backyard and carport.

McFarland House
Little inside the McFarland House had been altered over the years. And while the carpeting is new, it is historically accurate: Wall-to-wall carpeting was the ne plus ultra of Streamline Moderne homes.

Preservation Austin will need to get a zoning change for light office use before it moves in. Currently the McFarland House is zoned for residential use. (There is a residential tenant leasing the property through August 2021.)

Culmination of the rehabilitation of the McFarland House dovetailed with Preservation Austin completing a comprehensive five-year strategic plan. See preservationaustin.org/our-future-home

McFarland House
The original kitchen built-ins and cabinetry have been restored with contemporary appliances added.

McFarland House
The eat-in area in the kitchen faces the busy intersection of Red River and East 38 streets. The McFarland House has no formal dining room.

McFarland House
The upstairs features two bedrooms (including the master) and two bathrooms. A third bedroom is downstairs.

The master bathroom of the McFarland house with original built-ins and tile. The bathroom is not en suite but just across the hall.
The master bathroom of the McFarland House, with original built-ins and tile.

McFarland House
The master bedroom with original built-in drawers. McFarland House

With its original tile and sink, the first floor bathroom is en suite of the small first floor bedroom.

McFarland House
The distinctive outside second-floor staircase features a built-in dog house, the door to which can just be seen at under the bottom of the stairs.

McFarland House
The severely cracked concrete foundation had to be repaired and the site was re-graded.


Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzinhttps://sightlinesmag.org
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

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