Conference Tours


2014 Annual Conference in Austin

Architectural tours in and around Austin, Texas


As part of the Annual Conference, SAH offers a variety of guided and self-guided architectural tours that are open to conference attendees and the general public.

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Self-Guided Tours

Download Preservation Austin's self-guided tour apps:

Historic Austin Tours
Experience the rich history of Austin with self-guided walking tours of Congress Avenue, East 6th Street, and Old West Austin. 

Historic Austin Tours 2
This app includes the Tejano Trail Tour, free with the download, and the Iconic Music Venues tour, available for an in-app purchase of $2.99. 




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The French Legation

TR1 A Capital City on the Texas Frontier: Early Austin Houses

Tour Leader: Kenneth Hafertepe, Baylor University

Austin was a bold statement when created as the capital city of the Republic of Texas in 1839, as it was situated on the western edge of an Anglo-American settlement. Into this new town came Anglo-American settlers from the United States, many with their African American enslaved servants, and diplomats from the United States, England, and France. On this tour, we will see some of the most important buildings from Austin’s earliest years. The French Legation (1841) was built for Alphonse Dubois de Saligny, the French chargé d’affaires, and presents an intriguing blend of high style and vernacular, urban neoclassicism, and rural Creole. More than a decade later, master builder Abner Cook created several of the finest Greek Revival houses in Texas. The tour will include house visits and photo opportunities at a number of other sites.


SOLD OUT!


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility: Level 1
  • Cost: $50, includes transportation, $10 admission fee to French Legation and Neill-Cochran House
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


The Continental Club

TR2 South Congress Avenue: From Camino Real to Hipster SoCo

Tour Leaders: Emily Little, Clayton & Little Architects; Jana McCann, CEO, McCann Adams Studio

South Congress Avenue has been a regional thoroughfare since the days of frontier Texas. Spanish Camino Real trails passed through this area in the eighteenth century. Subsequently, it became a stagecoach route and, later, an early highway from San Antonio, ending in the only truly monumental approach to the Texas Capitol. Reflections of this history and of the street’s transformation as a popular shopping and cultural district today may be seen in the mix of nineteenth-century structures (Central Feed and Seed Store, now Güero’s Taco Bar); motor courts (Hotel San José, 1938; renovation, Lake | Flato, 1999); the midcentury Continental Club (1957); and sensitively proportioned recent infill structures. In addition to examining these buildings, the tour will consider the city’s efforts to address the increased traffic and protect the historic surrounding residential neighborhoods.


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 2 HSW


Laguna Gloria

TR3 Austin Gardens: Laguna Gloria and Mayfield Park

Tour Leaders: Kim McKnight, MSHP, Austin Parks and Recreation; Catherine O’Connor, Co’Design LLC

Nestled along the shores of Lake Austin are two adjacent estates developed in the 1920s that represent distinct visions for transforming rugged Hill Country settings into designed landscapes by well-read amateurs active in Austin’s Violet Crown Garden Club. Now part of The Contemporary Austin art museum, the gardens of Laguna Gloria were planned by Clara Driscoll, a businesswoman, philanthropist, and pioneering preservationist, who drew much of her inspiration from Italian gardens she had visited or knew from books. The gardens of Mayfield Park, the former Mayfield-Gutsch estate, were realized by Mary Mayfield Gutsch; her husband, Milton Gutsch; and their gardener, Esteban Arredondo, who took a much more eclectic approach combining formal features, irregular displays of native plants, and lily ponds.


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES:  2HSW


Rosewood Courts

TR4 LBJ’s Austin (Part 1): Origins of the Great Society

Tour Leader: Fred L. McGhee, Fred L. McGhee & Associates

Deeply dismayed by the living conditions in Austin’s hardest-hit neighborhoods during the Great Depression, Lyndon Baines Johnson as a young congressman in 1937 vowed to bring to the city funds from the recently passed U.S. Housing Act, foreshadowing the social justice advocacy embodied in his later Great Society initiatives. On this tour, we will explore three early projects underwritten by this seminal public housing bill. As part of the compromise necessary to pass the legislation, they were built as segregated communities: Santa Rita Courts for Mexican families, Rosewood Courts for African American families, and Chalmers Courts for white families.


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 1
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


Moore/Andersson Compound (courtesy of the Moore/Andersson Compound at the Charles Moore Foundation)

TR5 Moore/Andersson Compound

“It is a tiny village that wants to be a cathedral,” Paul Goldberger wrote in 1994. “Inside, the house explodes into a mad magnificence with a sprawling living room containing literally hundreds of toys, books, dolls, masks, drawings, architecture models, and pieces of folk art, arranged in niches, hung like gargoyles, and placed on shelves from floor to ceiling.” Shortly after joining the architecture faculty at the University of Texas in 1984, architect, educator, writer, and AIA Gold Medalist Charles Moore transformed a modest house built in the 1930s into a memory palace consisting of his own residence, a studio, and a residence for his partner in practice, Arthur W. Andersson. Today, it houses the Charles W. Moore Center for the Study of Place, which counts among its holdings the 2011 library of Colin Rowe.


SOLD OUT!


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 15
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $65, includes transportation, $25 admission fee
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


Moore/Andersson Compound (courtesy of the Moore/Andersson Compound at the Charles Moore Foundation)

TR6 Moore/Andersson Compound

“It is a tiny village that wants to be a cathedral,” Paul Goldberger wrote in 1994. “Inside, the house explodes into a mad magnificence with a sprawling living room containing literally hundreds of toys, books, dolls, masks, drawings, architecture models, and pieces of folk art, arranged in niches, hung like gargoyles, and placed on shelves from floor to ceiling.” Shortly after joining the architecture faculty at the University of Texas in 1984, architect, educator, writer, and AIA Gold Medalist Charles Moore transformed a modest house built in the 1930s into a memory palace consisting of his own residence, a studio, and a residence for his partner in practice, Arthur W. Andersson. Today, it houses the Charles W. Moore Center for the Study of Place, which counts among its holdings the 2011 library of Colin Rowe.


SOLD OUT!


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 15
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $65, includes transportation, $25 admission fee
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


LBJ Museum and Library

TR7 LBJ’s Austin (Part 2): All the Way with LBJ

Tour Leaders: Caroline Wright, HDR, Inc.; Betsy Frederick-Rothwell, University of Texas at Austin

Lyndon Baines Johnson has a myth as big as Texas. The second in a series of two LBJ tours takes you to places where he and the equally influential Lady Bird Johnson polished their political image and planned their personal and presidential legacies. On this tour, we will see the untouched 1960s presidential office suite in the downtown Austin Federal Building and enjoy a special tour of the 1971 Presidential Library designed by Gordon Bunshaft.


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 1
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


Gethsemane Lutheran Church

TR8 Identity and Change in Austin’s Religious Architecture

Tour Leader: Timothy Parker, Norwich University

The oldest monumental religious buildings in downtown Austin are marked by histories of change and adaptation. We will tour significant examples of this architecture and consider the periodic and recent challenges of preservation, conservation, and restoration. Included in the tour will be Gethsemane Lutheran Church (1883), now the Library of the Texas Historical Commission; St. David’s Episcopal Church (1853), the oldest extant stone masonry religious building in the city; and St. Mary Cathedral (1874–1884), a key work in the prolific career of Galveston architect Nicholas Clayton.


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 1
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


Travis County Courthouse

TR9 The Austin History Center and Austin’s Downtown Historic Corridor

Tour Leaders: Mike Miller, Austin History Center; Candace Volz, Volz O’Connell Hutson Architects

This tour examines notable historic public buildings and homes concentrated in a four-block area in the heart of Austin. The itinerary includes the neo-Renaissance Austin History Center (Hugo Kuehne, 1933), which was built as the city’s first permanent public library; the Bremond Block of eclectic nineteenth-century homes hearkening back to the day when the downtown had a thriving residential community; Wooldridge Square, one of the original public squares planned in 1839; and the Art Deco Travis County Courthouse (Page Brothers, 1931). 


SOLD OUT!


  • 12:00–2:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 2HSW


Mission San José

TR10 Spanish San Antonio

Tour Leader: Susan Snow, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park

The sprawling modern city of San Antonio has its origins in the string of the five Catholic missions founded beginning in 1718 along the banks of the San Antonio River on the frontier of Spanish Texas. This tour will focus on the four missions located in San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which was established in 1983. In addition to their eighteenth-century churches, which remain active parishes, the mission sites include remains of the residences of priests and Native Americans Indians, storehouses, and the extensive system of acequias that irrigated the surrounding farmland. Before returning to Austin, the tour will see the legacy of the Spanish colonial tradition in the mid-twentieth-century Marshall and Patsy Steves Residence (1964) designed by noted Texas modernist O’Neil Ford. 


SOLD OUT!


  • 8:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $60, includes transportation, boxed lunch
  • AIA/CES: 3 HSW



Trinity University San Antonio

TR11 On the Trail of O’Neil Ford in San Antonio

Tour Leaders: Kathryn O’Rourke, Trinity University; Rick Lewis, University of Texas at San Antonio; Chris Carson, Ford, Powell & Carson; Patsy Steves, Owner, Marshall and Patsy Steves Residence

Through his vibrant personality as well as his built work, O’Neil Ford (1905 - 1982) inspired fellow architects and clients to consider how modernist forms and materials could be inflected by the climate, ways of life, and regional building cultures of Texas. This tour examining Ford's work and influence in San Antonio will begin at the campus of Trinity University, the design of which occupied him for 33 years beginning in 1948. Other stops will highlight Ford's expressive range from the sleek modernism of the Inter-Continental Motors showroom (1964) to his reinterpretation of Spanish colonial themes for the home of Marshall and Patsy Steves (1964).


SOLD OUT!


  • 8:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $60, includes transportation, box lunch
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW



TR12 Palimpsests of Color: Transition, Gentrification, and Hidden History in Austin’s Black Neighborhoods

Tour Leaders: Tara Dudley, Hardy•Heck•Moore, Inc.; Andrea Roberts, University of Texas at Austin

Architecture and landscapes are palimpsests of the way buildings and neighborhoods manifest the past in the present. This tour will focus on the layers of communities of color hidden within Austin’s contemporary built and cultural landscapes. We will visit little-known landmarks transformed by racial segregation, gentrification, migrations, and planning interventions. The tour will include former freedmen’s communities, the historic African American business corridor along 12th Street in East Austin, the Latino Cesar Chavez community, the predominantly African American Blackland neighborhood, the nation’s first federal public housing sites (Santa Rita Courts, Rosewood Courts, and Chalmers Courts), and new museums and art installations celebrating this often hidden, yet valuable, heritage.


  • 1:00­–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 4 HSW


Lady Bird Lake

TR13 Austin by Boat: A View of History from the River

Tour Leaders: Alfred Godfrey, Limbacher&Godfrey Architects; Kim McKnight, MSHP, Austin Parks and Recreation

The Colorado River is simultaneously the most constant and the most dynamic of all of Austin’s cultural resources. Austin’s iconic waterway is the backdrop for an exploration of the city’s nascent years as an outpost along the Texas frontier to a booming modern metropolis. The evolution of Austin’s riverfront from a place of industry to a lakefront for recreation can be traced through sites such as the former location of the Butler Brick Works (1873) and the Seaholm Power Plant (1950) to Zilker Park (1917), Auditorium Shores (1970), and the city’s new boardwalk along the south shore of Lady Bird Lake. Our view of the capital city by boat will offer interesting views of some of Austin’s iconic buildings and structures, including the Lamar Boulevard Bridge (1942), the Buford Fire Tower (1930), and Austin City Hall (Antoine Predock, 2004).


  • 1:00–3:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 40
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 2 HSW 



Bohn House

TR14 Austin's Recent Past

Tour Leaders: Charles Peveto, Texas Historical Commission and MidTexMod; Trey McWhorter, MidTexMod

MidTexMod, the Central Texas Chapter of Docomomo US, will host a tour of some of Austin’s most distinctive modern-era residences. We will begin with a driving tour of the streamlined Bohn House (Roy Thomas, 1939) and the Chester and Lorine Nagel House (1941), which Chester Nagel designed following his return from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard. In-depth tours will include the residential complex (1945, 1952) that Charles Granger, who had worked for Richard Neutra, designed for his family, and Edward Durell Stone’s Westgate Tower (1962).


SOLD OUT!


  • 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW


Goldsmith Hall courtyard

TR15 The Forty Acres and More: The Campus of the University of Texas at Austin

Tour Leader: Lawrence Speck, Principal, Page; Professor, School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin; Master Planning Consultant and Architectural Design Guidelines Author for the 2012 University of Texas at Austin Campus Master Plan

From 1910 to 1950 the University of Texas created an extraordinary ensemble of more than 30 buildings that carefully followed master plans by Cass Gilbert and Paul Cret and were executed by those architects as well as Herbert Greene. The tour will concentrate on this well-preserved ensemble of buildings and campus spaces, and will also cover more recent master plans and buildings by Gordon Bunshaft (SOM); Cesar Pelli; Kallman and McKinnell; and others.


  • 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW


Williamson County Courthouse dedication

TR16 Small-Town Pleasures: Barbecue and Courthouse Squares

Tour Leader: Matt Synatschk, City of Georgetown

This tour will travel to the town of Taylor, founded as a railroad shipping point in 1876, to sample the offerings of one of the state’s most highly regarded barbecue joints. Louie Mueller Barbecue has been serving brisket from the same location in the heart of town since 1959. Following lunch, the tour will make the short drive to Georgetown, the seat of Williamson County and an example of a small town that has found a way to flourish and use historic preservation as a capital asset. The itinerary will include an overview of the current Downtown Master Plan followed by a walking tour noting recent instances of adaptive reuse, the courthouse square, and the courthouse (Charles H. Page, 1910), which was restored in 2007 as part of the state’s Texas Historic Courthouse Program.


Tour Cancelled


  • 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $60, includes transportation, lunch
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW



Elizabet Ney Museum

TR17 Three Centuries of Austin Living

Tour Leaders: Oliver Franklin, Director Elisabet Ney Museum; John Volz, Principal, Volz O’Connell Hutson Architects; Juan Miró, Miguel Rivera, Principals, Miró Rivera Architects; David Mahler, Principal, Environmental Survey Consulting

Explore the architecture and landscapes of three stylistically contrasting estates that convey approaches to indoor and outdoor living in three distinct eras in Austin’s development. The 1892 home and studio of sculptress Elizabet Ney, created for her unconventional lifestyle, features a unique blend of neoclassical and medieval elements nestled in a native prairie landscape. The Commodore Perry Estate (Henry Bowers Thompson, 1928), built for a prominent cotton broker, includes a grand Italian Renaissance main house and garage surrounded by five acres of wooded land, a formal terraced garden, and several buildings later constructed to support education uses. The mansion and the sunken garden have recently been restored to their historic grandeur, and plans are under way for additional property development. The Westridge Residence (Miró Rivera Architects; David Mahler, landscape design, 2011) is a striking contemporary, small-family home in the Barton Hills neighborhood of South Austin. The grounds feature more than 100 species of carefully selected plants native to Central Texas.


  • 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 4
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW


St. Martin's Evangelical Lutheran Church

TR18 Modernity and Continuity in Austin's Religious Architecture

Tour Leader: Jason John Paul Haskins, Locus Iste

Modern religious architecture in Austin emerged under the dominating influences of state institutions, revealing the tenuous separation of church and state in the American South, while responding to changing congregational identities and liturgical developments through the twentieth century. Each of the buildings on this tour balances distinctly modern developments with an overt commitment to retaining continuity with tradition. We will explore churches built in proximity to the university, the Capitol, and state facilities throughout the city. Our stops will include the Richardsonian Romanesque auditorium church of University United Methodist Church (Frederick Mann, 1909), two abstractions of the primitive Christian basilicas in Central Christian Church (Robert Leon White and Samuel Vosper, 1929) and St. Martin’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (Robert George Mather of Jessen Jessen Millhouse & Greeven, 1960), and the Interfaith Chapel (David Graeber, 1962) at the Austin State Supported Living Center.



Tour Cancelled


  • 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 1
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW


Early house in Fredericksburg

TR19 Tradition and Change in a Nineteenth-Century German Texan Community: Fredericksburg

Tour Leader: Kenneth Hafertepe, Baylor University

Fredericksburg was founded in 1846 by German immigrants looking for political freedom and economic opportunity on the Texas frontier. The town is proud of its German heritage; many nineteenth-century structures have been preserved. At the same time, Fredericksburg has emerged in the past two decades as a tourist destination, complete with a brew pub and a number of wineries in the surrounding countryside. The earliest houses were log, but both traditional German fachwerk and native limestone were rapidly adopted. After the Civil War, the story-and-a-half rock house became the beau ideal of the Hill Country. The Victorian era did not truly begin in Fredericksburg until after 1880. In the next twenty years, San Antonio architect Alfred Giles designed a new courthouse, a two-story Victorian house, and a bank. This day-long tour will examine houses made of log, fachwerk, and rock, as well as local Lutheran, Catholic, and Methodist churches. The itinerary will include a number of private homes as well as the Pioneer Memorial Museum, which features the fachwerk Kammlah house, begun in 1853 and evolved over the next half century, and the Weber house, one of the best-preserved examples of a “Sunday house,” a distinctive local house type. The tour will conclude with a reception at a fachwerk house that is one of the oldest houses in town.


SOLD OUT!


  • 8:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 2
  • Cost: $70, includes transportation, admission fee, lunch, refreshments
  • AIA/CES: 7HSW


Abram Wylie Hill House

TR20 East of Austin: State Parks and Properties in the Bastrop Area 

Tour Leaders: Michael Strutt, Texas Parks and Wildlife, Preservation Austin; John and Candace Volz, Volz O’Connell Hutson Architects; Tere O’Connell, Preservation Austin

The ecological region immediately east of Austin is known as the Blackland Prairie, which Anglo settlers in the mid-nineteenth century found well suited for farming. They also exploited the abundant timber in the Lost Pines Forest, a narrow belt of loblolly pines isolated from the great forests of East Texas. This tour will explore the work of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in Bastrop (a National Historic Landmark) and Buescher State Parks, which occupy a portion of the Lost Pines. The CCC constructed sandstone buildings in the rustic style and linked the parks with a scenic winding drive that retains a number of culverts, some very elaborate, also constructed of local stone. Heroic efforts saved most of the buildings during the devastating wildfire in September 2011, while age and development pressures pose challenges for the preservation of the road. In the Blackland area, the tour will visit the recently completed restoration of the 1856 Abram Wiley Hill House and grounds (“Ancient Oaks”), a superb example of a Greek Revival farmstead.


Tour Cancelled


  • 8:30 a.m.–2:45 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 40
  • Mobility Level: 4
  • Cost: $70, includes transportation, boxed lunch
  • Transportation will stop at the airport at approximately 2:15 p.m. before returning to Austin.
  • AIA/CES: 4HSW


Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

TR21 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Paisano Ranch

Tour Leaders: Carrie McDonald, Phoebe Allen, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center; Michael Adams, Michener Center for Writers, University of Texas at Austin

This tour presents examples of two Central Texas landscapes. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, now a research unit of the University of Texas at Austin, promotes the sustainable use and conservation of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. Its campus in southwest Austin consists of a complex of buildings designed by Overland Partners (1995) and 279 acres of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. A short distance away is the 250-acre Paisano Ranch, tucked away from the bustle of the city along Barton Creek, accessible only via a low-water crossing and rarely open to visitors. The property formerly belonged to Texas author J. Frank Dobie and now provides a residence for authors of the Dobie Paisano Fellowship Program of the University of Texas. At the core of the modest ranch house is a mid-nineteenth-century log house.


  • 9:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • Maximum number of participants: 25
  • Mobility Level: 3
  • Cost: $40, includes transportation
  • AIA/CES: 3HSW

Level 1: Walk a few blocks, climb a few stairs, get on and off transportation easily, and stand for short periods of time.

Level 2: In addition to Level 1, climb a few flights of stairs, walk on uneven surfaces, maintain a walking speed with the majority of the participants, and stand for short periods of time.

Level 3: In addition to Level 2, you are able to participate with longer standing and walking periods, various terrains, long driveways, steep driveways, several flights of stairs, unpaved areas, and stand for 30 minutes.

Level 4: We are sorry to say that the tours are not wheelchair accessible.