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East Austin will lose home to demolition

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 by Elizabeth Pagano

The Historic Landmark Commission approved a proposal at its meeting Monday to demolish an East Austin home originally built in the 1920 early 1900s.

The house at 1409 Canterbury St. will be demolished to make way for new construction, despite a neighborhood plea to place a moratorium on demolitions in the neighborhood.

Commissioner Terri Myers made a motion to initiate historic zoning on the house, based on the architecture and age of the home. She also invoked a preservation standard that honors “the broad trends of American history.”

“I think that it represents the best in America’s working-class and middle-class families,” said Myers.

However, Myers’ motion failed to gain a second. Instead, commissioners voted 4-1 to allow the demolition and encourage the construction of a new house that is consistent with the existing structure and the historic character of the neighborhood.

That historic character is rapidly disappearing, according to neighbors who stayed late at the meeting to protest the demolition of the house.

East Town Lake Citizens Neighborhood Association President Bertha Delgado spoke against the demolition on behalf of her neighbors.

“We’re saddened and we are disturbed that these demolition permits are being approved and our homes are being destroyed,” said Delgado.

Phil Thomas, who is also a member of the neighborhood association, spoke against the demolition as well. He told commissioners that he had compiled some demolition statistics for the area of East Austin bounded by Lady Bird Lake on the south, Seventh Street on the north, I-35 on the east and Pleasant Valley drive on the west.

Thomas said that from 2011 until 2015, 51 demolition permits were approved, and currently, 21 proposed demolitions are on the way.

Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky emphasized that it was important for any new construction on the lot to be sensitive to the original character of the neighborhood.

“Neo-traditional houses, Craftsman-style houses (and) McMansions do not fit in East Austin, plain and simple. And people should stop trying to build them there,” said Sadowsky.

Sadowsky said that after walking around the house, he had determined that the deterioration of the house was “pretty significant.” He said that was the main reason he had recommended that the demolition go forward.

“This is, obviously, one of the oldest houses in East Austin and on Canterbury,” said Sadowsky. “It is always a shame to lose a house like this. But sometimes the economic reality has to set in, and a house that has been neglected for this long and suffered this kind of deterioration — perhaps the best way of preserving this is through memories.”

Shawn Breedlove addressed the neighborhood’s concerns on behalf of the homeowner, saying, “I know that emotions are high, and we have a lot of respect for architecture and history and historical preservation.” By way of an example, he said that the owner had purchased another house just down the street that was historic, and did not plan to tear it down.

Image from the City of Austin website.

This story has been changed to correct an editing error.

 

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