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Tuesday, February 2, 2021 by Sean Saldaña
Former Threadgill home on its way to historic designation
Commissioners at the Jan. 25 meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission voted to advance the historic designation process for 4310 Rosedale Ave., the former home of Kenneth and Mildred Threadgill.
Kenneth Threadgill, an Austin-based country musician who collaborated with national figures like Jimmie Rodgers, lived at the home from 1945 to the mid-1980s. Threadgill operated a gas station and music venue on North Lamar where he and his band, Hootenanny Hoots, would perform regularly.
The venue also hosted open mics where local artists could showcase their talents. One such performer was a University of Texas student named Janis Joplin, who would go on to sing “Piece of My Heart,” “Me and Bobby McGee” and other iconic hits.
Joplin got some of her first experience performing in front of crowds at this gas station, and the venue is considered to have played a pivotal role in launching her career. Even after achieving commercial success, Joplin maintained a close relationship with Kenneth Threadgill, even returning to Austin at the zenith of her career to celebrate his birthday.
Though Mildred died in 1976 and Kenneth in 1987, the Threadgill name has been celebrated for generations, staying prominent in the restaurant and music scene with Threadgill’s locations on 301 West Riverside Drive and 6416 North Lamar Blvd., both now closed for good.
While the Historic Landmark Commission voted to designate the Rosedale Avenue property historic last week, the case actually began with a demolition request. The current owner was looking to demolish a garage on the property, a move that drew attention to the historic nature of the building.
Speaking last month, Steve Sadowsky with the Historic Preservation Office said the commission had a unique opportunity “to initiate and hopefully recommend historic zoning for a very important house in the Rosedale area where we have very few landmarks, and also the home of an Austin musical icon.”
The owners, who purchased the home in 2013, also spoke at the meeting, focusing on the balance between renovating their property and honoring the past. According to the owners, the proposal “is simply a demolition of a single-story, dilapidated garage and an adjacent shed. We hope to make the backyard more livable.”
They noted that the proposed structure is near the back of the property, well-distant from the original Threadgill home, and that they were “actively pursuing historic designation.”
The landmark commission agreed with city staffers and the owners, granting the demolition and formally beginning the historic designation process – a vote that came to a head last week when the commission convened to discuss historic designation further.
Sadowsky made the case that the home “represents the private life of Mildred Threadgill,” calling the couple “icons in Austin’s music community, patrons of the arts (who provided) their space and also their friendship to musicians in the city.”
The commissioners didn’t need to hear much more; they voted to honor the iconic Austin couple and advance the historic designation process to the Planning Commission.
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Key Players & Topics In This Article
Historic Landmark Commission: The city’s Historic Landmark Commission promotes historic preservation of buildings and structures. The commission also reviews applications and permits for historic zoning and historic grants.