A few weeks ago, Texas A&M University System workers moved out of the Hirshfeld-Moore House (1885) and Cottage (1873), a dandy Victorian compound on West Ninth Street between Lavaca and Guadalupe streets.
Occupying half of an urban block, it needs work. It isn’t in danger of demolition, so don’t ring the preservation alarms. But we are talking to experts about its past, present and possible future.
Although Austin probably doesn’t need another house museum, Hirshfeld-Moore, in some capacity, could serve as a linchpin for a walkable tourism district. Perhaps as a visitors’ center for that historical district?
In the immediate vicinity are the Governor’s Mansion (1854), Bremond Block (1860s-1890s), Chateau Bellevue (1874, redone 1894), Heman Sweatt Travis County Courthouse (1930) and Austin History Center (1933).
Within very easy walking distance are the Capitol Visitors Center (1856-57), Lundberg Bakery (1876), O. Henry Hall (1881), Driskill Hotel (1886), Texas State Capitol (1888), Littlefield Building (1910), Scarbrough Building (1910), Claudia Taylor Johnson Hall (1914), Paramount Theatre (1915), Stephen F. Austin Hotel (1924), Norwood Tower (1929), State Theater (1935), Federal Courthouse (1935), and Municipal Building (1937), to name just a few gems.
Some enthusiasts for late modernism might include the Faulk Central Library (1979), soon to change roles when its current functions move to the new Central Library in the Seaholm development. The big white structure will be part of an expanded Austin History Center, which for decades has been bursting at the seams of its graceful 1933 building.
Then perhaps that older structure — once also the Central Library — could finally give Austin a destination museum dedicated to local history, with permanent exhibits to go along with its excellent temporary ones.
You can’t understand New Austin without delving into Old Austin. One digital avenue for that quest is Austin Found, a series of historical images of Austin and Texas published at statesman.com/austinfound. We’ll share samples here regularly.