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Welcome to our website! We're on a mission to save Austin's historic Norwood House, a 1922 Arts & Crafts treasure on the shores of Lady Bird Lake in Austin, TX. This special bungalow has been under threat for years, but it has recently been stabilized. It's now READY to be restored and repurposed to serve the people in a taxpayer-friendly way. You're in the right place to find out all about the house and how you can help.

Thanks for visiting, and please be in touch!

Our Mission

The Mission of the Norwood Park Foundation is to restore the Norwood House to its historic exterior appearance, rehabilitate the surrounding historic grounds and gardens, and repurpose the property to serve the people of Austin as a premier, nonprofit and self-sustaining rental venue and community meeting space.

Our Purpose

Located on City parkland, Austin's historic Norwood House is a public park asset, with a stunning view that could command substantial rental revenue for the taxpayers if the house was operating. But with lack of vision in past decades, and municipal budgets strained, the investment required to position Norwood to earn its own keep has not been put forth.

The nonprofit Norwood Park Foundation was formed because there is no money in the budget of the city's Parks & Recreation Department - now or in the foreseeable future - to restore and maintain this remarkable but long-neglected property. Since the will to save Norwood has been strongly established, and since the needs of the deteriorated house have been urgent, we have joined with the City of Austin in a public/private partnership to:

  1. restore the house and grounds,
  2. operate the property in a revenue-generating, self-sustaining fashion, and
  3. ensure its future protection.

In this way, we will save the Norwood House and its beautiful site while modeling a citizen-initiated, volunteer-based civic project that promotes an even greater mission to preserve our town's original, special places. The end result: a natural and cultural treasure..returned to the people of Austin, at minimal cost to the taxpayer.

Contact

Norwood Park Foundation, Inc.
P.O. Box 5682
Austin TX 78763-5682

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Phase 1 Stabilization
The Norwood House in March of 2014. Hazardous substances have to be removed before we can do anything else. And a big surprise is in store: we learn the house is NOT in the right place. It was set down incorrectly when it was moved back onto the hill in 1999.
Sure enough, the front door is slightly out of alignment with the center of the original front sidewalk. And the walls are not lined up with the historic garden paths the way they are supposed to. Because these anomalies will cause big problems down the road, we face the music and add a house move to the Phase 1 list.

The first step is environmental remediation. Specialists in hazmat suits remove all asbestos-containing materials from the interior. Then a special filtering machine is affixed to the front of the house to trap airborne fibers.
The entire bungalow is shrink-wrapped and subjected to negative pressure 24/7 for a week as part of the process of scrubbing the air clean. Materials containing lead paint are either removed or encapsulated to meet all state and federal requirements.

In the meantime, NPF is assembling the professional team and beginning the design work that will allow the Phase 1 plan to be carried out. Here, our architects and engineers are gathered for early discussions.
Once the house is remediated, exterior openings are shored up with plywood and interior bracing is installed. Protruding rafters and other structural elements are stored. A bobcat circles the house, helping the crew prepare for huge steel beams to be slipped underneath and affixed to the structure.

Hydraulic jacks slowly raise the house so that large dollies can be moved underneath and chained to the beams. The entire contraption is further elevated and hitched to a truck.
On a frigid December 1st, 2014, the house is pulled from its spot and shimmied into place about a hundred feet west, where bluebonnets bloomed earlier. It is set onto wood cribbing and surrounded with temporary fencing for the duration.

Enormous footings from the previous, substandard foundation are discovered. They must be broken up and removed before the pad is ready for drilling.
It is grand central station at Norwood as huge drilling rigs & cement trucks maneuver on the site. Holes for twenty piers are drilled to bedrock, reinforced with steel, and filled with concrete.

Early version of art in public places at the Norwood House while we wait for the below-grade piers to cure.

The grade beam is formed atop the piers. The cavities are reinforced with steel and the beam is poured.
An aerial view of the site taken the same day. The outline of the new foundation can be seen. It is now in correct alignment with the remaining historic landscape elements, including the circular fountain, which can be seen to the right of the east gable room. Photo courtesy of Patrick Wong.
What a beautiful sight! The grade beam only has a short time to enjoy its moment in the sun before the house is moved back into place.
What is trickier than moving the house aside? Moving it back. This time it must be placed with great precision. Slippery soap, patience and lots of hydraulic jacks are involved. The house now hovers over the grade beam, awaiting formation of the stem wall.

Hard work on the hill as the stem wall is formed, reinforced, hand-poured and troweled. This little wall has to transfer weight for at least the next hundred years. Our crew is careful to get it right.
Another amazing moment in the construction. The finished stem wall is neat as a pin, and the house appears to float. We especially like the branch stuck in the roof for several months, very classy! On March 7, 2015, the Norwood House moves for the last time as it is lowered onto its new foundation for good.
With the bungalow now on solid footing, we are back inside, sistering floor joists or replacing them altogether depending on condition. Walls that have remained in place to help brace the house are removed. A vision is beginning to emerge.
From the rear, looking toward the front door.

At the same time, a grant from the South River City Citizens neighborhood association enables us to carry out long-desired site work. Historic elements are revealed, and the spectacular view of the Austin skyline that was obscured for decades, is restored.
A new subfloor is laid. What a joy to walk safely through the house where gaping holes once threatened! New bracing is added on top of the subfloor, and some areas are torqued to bring into plumb & level.
View toward the east gable room (former sleeping porch).

Wow! Light streams into the house as we remove the existing roof decking and add temporary support structure. Rafters are sistered or replaced as necessary.

New roof decking capable of supporting the future Ludowici clay tiles is laid over the entire structure. No more rain inside the house!
Rolled roofing is installed to weatherproof the new decking. Deteriorated areas of the exterior walls are sheathed and holes are covered over.
View of the front of the house, which faces Edgecliff.
Historic flooding rain in central Texas delays our final step - a coat of paint to protect the house while we raise funds for the Phase 2 transformation. For now, mission accomplished!
View of the west gable, with the future rear/terrace wall overlooking Lady Bird Lake on the left.

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