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Resident asks for East Austin demolition change

Monday, May 1, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

At the April 24 meeting of the Historic Landmark Commission, Amy Thompson spoke as a concerned East Austin resident to offer up a “preservation postmortem” during Citizen’s Communication in the hopes of changing how demolitions move forward in East Austin. In February, a demolition permit was released for the home at 1409 East Third Street. “Before you panic about me bringing up an old cold case, I’m doing this as a case study to bring up a particular challenge we have with researching residents and architecturally interesting homes on the east side,” said Thompson. She explained that, though staff and neighbors had a sense of the history based on its Masonic associations, they weren’t able to prove that it was built by a group of Masons until two weeks after the hearing. The home was built by the Third Street Masons – a group responsible for building such things as the entrance to the UT Tower and the stonework at Pease Mansion, among other local landmarks. “It is incredibly hard to document the lives of people who have been historically marginalized. We simply cannot do it in 30 to 60 days,” she concluded, asking that the commission consider using the full allotment of time to hold demolition permits for structures identified as historic in the 2016 East Austin Historic Resources Survey. “It takes so much,” she said. “These histories aren’t written down, we have to find oral histories … and you can’t do that in 60 days with volunteers.”

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