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Home with ‘wealth of history’ is relocated

Thursday, December 19, 2019 by Jessi Devenyns

Earlier this year, the Cielo Property group donated and relocated the home of the first African American disc jockey, Albert Lavada Durst – also known as “Dr. Hepcat” – from 1608 E. Fourth St. to 1906 E. 21st St. This initiative not only gave housing to an East Austin resident who was left homeless after her own house burned down, it also rescued the house itself. According to Historic Preservation Officer Steve Sadowsky, the home was in dire shape and was being used as a drug house in its former location. On its new lot, the house is being restored to reflect its 1920s-era working-class bungalow architecture. Sadowsky told the Historic Landmark Commission at the Dec. 16 meeting that the home has “tremendous significance.” According to the staff report, “This house reflects a wealth of history in Austin and should be preserved at any cost.” Commissioner Ben Heimsath said that relocating the home was “not ideal,” but in this case, was a “good compromise” and that its association with Lavada Durst “makes this house worthy of preservation.” The commission voted unanimously to initiate the historic zoning process.

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