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Historical house gets new home in East Austin

Thursday, February 21, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

There has been one less casualty in the race to preserve historic homes in Austin. The East Austin home of the first African-American disc jockey, Albert Lavada Durst, also known as “Dr. Hepcat,” was at risk of becoming lost in the sea of redevelopment on East Fourth Street. In order to preserve the home, Cielo Property Group donated the structure to an East Austin resident who was left homeless after a fire. Mary Clark, the recipient of the home, lost her home to a fire in 2011 and, since then, “has been moving around and making do the best she can,” Cielo co-founder Bobby Dillard told the Austin Monitor in an email. When Council Member Greg Casar heard that Cielo was looking into the relocation and reuse possibilities for the property, he put the property group in touch with Clark. “She was a great recipient as she has lived in the neighborhood for a long time and owned property in the neighborhood to which the house could be moved,” said Dillard. The new location of the historic home is 1906 E. 21st St., which Clark has owned for 50 years. Although not yet in place, Austin’s Historic Landmark Commission unanimously approved the relocation in December. Cielo has since been working with the city and Texas Gas Service to secure the permits and complete the work necessary to relocate the house. “This is a tremendous example of the power of collaboration,” said District 1 Council Member Natasha Harper-Madison in a press release. “Thanks to open minds and open dialogue, we have an outcome that helps a resident in need, preserves a piece of our cultural heritage, provides needed office space, and significantly contributed to affordable housing. There are lessons here all of us can learn from.”

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