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Heritage Society seeking new, young friends

Thursday, February 5, 2009 by Austin Monitor

The Granger House — a ‘50s low-slung International-style home in the Judge’s Hill neighborhood – was the centerpiece last night in an effort to reinvigorate Inherit Austin, the Heritage Society’s effort to appeal to a younger set.

Matt Curtis hosted the event, and noted in his invite that the Granger House was cool, modern and “ring-a-ding glamorous.” Architect Jay Farrell, who orchestrated the home’s renovation for new owners Mark Seeger and Jeff Harper, provided a brief slide show on the house and it’s context within the architecture of the time. He pointed out the house’s features and its strong Philip Johnson influence — an emphasis on clean lines, strong horizontal elements and lots of glass.

Architect Charles Granger of the firm Fehr and Granger designed the house in 1952. Fehr and Granger were Austin natives and together they designed the bathhouse at Barton Springs, as well as the Mueller Airport and the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest. Granger built the house for his family but was living elsewhere by the time he was killed in an auto accident in 1966.

The style of the Granger House is mid-century modern, which is the clean, open style replicated in many of the office towers of the time, Farrell said. The emphasis is on glass and a clear grid construction. The design also incorporated some of the last bricks of the Butler kiln down on Lady Bird Lake. While the low-slung Granger House has a modest façade, the back of the home is mostly glass with sweeping views of downtown Austin. 

The house is on the National Register of Historic Places. Farrell did make some changes to the house during the renovation, including removing walls to expand the master suite and gutting the kitchen and laundry room for renovation. Some architectural touches in the home, such as the glass risers on the stairs, are still in place even after the restoration effort.

Curtis said the Granger house party was intended to build interest in Inherit Austin, which is trying to expand its base. Membership in the group is $70 per individual or $100 per couple. For more information, call 474-5198.

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