Preservation Austin purchases landmark modern house


A prominent Austin modern architecture landmark and the site of a zoning battle will now be positioned for restoration and reuse, thanks to local Preservation Austin.

The nonprofit group announced last week that it has purchased the well-known house at 3805 Red River Street, a two-story white stucco Streamline Moderne house built in 1947.

On the busy corner of Red River and East 38 1/2 streets, the home garnered the spotlight in 2014 when it received historic landmark status against the owners’s wishes after a long public battle between property-rights advocates and preservationists.

Preservation Austin was chief among the advocates for keeping the mid-century home as is. The house was recently listed for sale for $725,000.

Lindsey Derrington, newly named executive director of Preservation Austin, said the organization paid full price for the house.

“Our plan is to restore the building and sustain its presence on what is now a busy thoroughfare in the central-city Hancock neighborhood,” Derrington said. “We will be rehabbing the building over the course of the next few years and hope to use state historic tax credits to support the project.”

Rear view of the 1947 Streamline Moderne house at 3805 Red River Street. Photo courtesy Trulia.

Derrington added that plans include building a new, smaller residential unit at the rear of the large lot to help pay for the renovation costs.

The house is one of the few in Austin in the International or Streamline Moderne style, a development of Art Deco. Inspired by aerodynamic design — especially that of ocean liners and trains — streamline architecture emphasized a combination of curving forms and long horizontal lines along with nautical elements such as porthole cutouts.

“We’ve actually made contact with the family who built the house in 1947 and are hoping to receive some historic photos from the late 1940s and early 1950s soon,” Derrington said. “The house retains an incredible amount of its historic fabric but these images will help us pin down some addition details about the original design.”

Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is an arts and culture journalist who has covered visual art, performance, film, literature, architecture, and just about any combination thereof. She was the staff arts critic for the Austin American-Statesman for 17 years. Her commendations include the First Place Arts & Culture Criticism Award from the Society for Features Journalism. Additionally, Jeanne Claire has been awarded professional fellowships at USC’s Western Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and NEA/Columbia University Arts Journalism Institute. In 2022, she was awarded the Rabkin Prize in visual art journalism. Jeanne Claire founded and led Sightlines, a non-profit online arts and culture magazine that reached an annual readership of 600,000. And for two years, she taught arts journalism at the University of Texas College of Fine Arts. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Architecture magazine, Dwell, the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Art Papers, and ICON design magazine, among other publications.

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