Austin’s Historic Norwood Estate Prepares for a Comeback – TOWERS

Image: Norwood Park Foundation / Mell Lawrence Architects / Campbell Landscape Architects

After decades of decline, the future of Austin’s Ollie O. Norwood Estate looks better than ever. This is great news for the patient as the historic Craftsman style bungalow was built in 1922 by developer and stockbroker Ollie Norwood and his wife Calie in 1018 Edgecliff Terrace Located on the northwest corner of East Riverside Drive and I-35 Frontage Road, it has been completely neglected since the City of Austin bought the property in 1985. This area is actually better known for its dog park!

This city acquisition saved the property from any private development in hopes of demolishing the home and taking advantage of the location’s incredible views over the lake, but after that, for 35 years it left no favors letting the place rot – even that Norwood Park Foundation, A non-profit organization that was founded in 2012 and has its roots in local and neighborhood efforts to repair the site until the 1990s describes the current state of the property as “not so charming anymore”.

A view of the Norwood Estate in its original state. Image: Austin History Center

The Norwood Estate in 2011, before major restorations began. Photo courtesy of the Norwood Park Foundation.

The Norwood house in 2017 after significant stabilization and restoration work. Photo by James Rambin.

But the foundation’s efforts to restore the house and the grounds and make it an urban venue that resembles the equally historic Zilker Clubhouse are finally picking up speed, according to its director Colleen Theriot, The groundbreaking ceremony for the project is currently planned for the end of October this year, with a possible completion date in 2022. This milestone comes after years of effort – the property finally received a historic marker in 2017, and while it still looks like a cottage, significant work has already been done inside and out to stabilize the structure and prevent further deterioration. The project received help from a city park loan, a grant from the Austin Parks Foundation, and a 2018 reallocation of local hotel occupancy taxes, but the search for private donors continues.

Facing the main entrance to the restored Norwood project, the buildings shown at left will be added at a later date. Image: Norwood Park Foundation / Mell Lawrence Architects / Campbell Landscape Architects

The work that will soon lay the foundation here if all goes well is a little less extensive than the original plan for the site – instead of starting with both the restoration of the historic house and the site and two planned auxiliary troops including catering at the same time – To build a kitchen to use the capacity of the site as a venue, the newly configured project will initially focus only on the restoration of the house and its immediate surroundings, the addition of a terrace behind the building with a view of the lake and the construction of a parking lot the city and other infrastructure on the corner of Riverside Drive and Edgecliff Terrace.

The rear patio is planned for the upcoming phase of restoration work at the Norwood site. Image: Norwood Park Foundation / Mell Lawrence Architects / Campbell Landscape Architects

Director Theriot says that “rising costs” mandated this change at the stage, but that the reduction in scope actually thrilled the foundation – because it allows them to get started and something tangible as quickly as possible despite possible local pandemic issues have show for their efforts that they believe will likely motivate additional donors to help them get the rest of the project over the finish line. “When the red tile roof of this incredibly charming handicraft treasure appears on this cliff, we know people will be so excited – and they will rise to meet us,” she says.

Looking south to the rear of the Norwood Estate from a perspective across Lady Bird Lake. Image: Norwood Park Foundation / Mell Lawrence Architects / Campbell Landscape Architects

Along with the support structures next to the original house, future phases could add additional features to the site, including a restored pavilion and possibly a reinterpretation of the original greenhouse that used to stand on the property. Theriot says the Norwood Park Foundation is committed to some kind of public access to the site by 2022 – the 100th anniversary of its construction – a milestone that is almost a long time coming for a historic Austin property fell apart in darkness.

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