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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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The House

In the early 1920s a remarkable Arts & Crafts estate began to take shape on the high bluffs overlooking what is now Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Located above the south shore along Riverside Drive and I-35, it featured a small but very high-style bungalow evocatively named “Norcliff” by its owners, Ollie O. and Calie  Norwood. Map to Norwood House - 1002 Edgecliff Terrace, Austin, TX 78704Over the next several years structural additions and improvements to the grounds would eventually yield a beautiful property that was widely admired and well-used by the family and, eventually, large numbers of Austinites.

The story of the Norwood House begins in the years leading up to the Great Depression, when business boomed in America - including Austin. Ollie Norwood made his fortune in the volatile bond market and leveraged his assets to bankroll ambitious, visionary projects. He is best known for building two landmark structures in downtown Austin, the Motoramp Garage and More about the Norwood Towerthe 16-story Norwood Tower on 7th St. The stunning Gothic-Revival Norwood Tower was the first fully air-conditioned skyscraper in Austin and one of the first such equipped towers in the nation.

Read about the NorwoodTower

Calie Gove Norwood had been a teacher in Matagorda, Texas, before her marriage to Ollie in 1918. The couple’s decision to build a house in the Arts & Crafts style and develop the estate in accordance with the tenets of that movement in design history reflect that they were progressive thinkers, in keeping with the times.

See photos of the EstateThe overall Norwood estate was comprised of Norcliff itself (the main bungalow residence), adjacent formal gardens, vegetable gardens, a garage with apartment, a substantial masonry & wood gazebo with pergola overlooking the Colorado River (known as the "teahouse"), a split-level greenhouse (in which vegetables were grown hydroponically) with a gardener's workroom below-level, a very large geothermal spring-fed swimming pool with fully-plumbed bathhouses, tennis courts, and even two additional bungalow homes for Ollie and Calie’s parents - all on about 5 acres that included a large pecan orchard.

See photos of the Norwood Estate

The real heyday of the Norwood estate didn’t last all that long. The crash of the stock market in 1929 and the Great Depression that followed hit the Norwoods hard as it did almost everyone else. The couple was able to hang onto the property into their older years, but many of the special features of the original estate were unsustainable, and ultimately faded away over subsequent decades.

Read a detailed history of the Norwood EstateRead a detailed history of the estate, by Martha D. Freeman

Some interesting tidbits: 

- In later years, the Norwoods opened the swimming pool to the public for an admission fee, and neighborhood youngsters were taught swimming lessons there by Calie Norwood.

- In the flood of 1935, the Norwoods provided drinking water to the city after the south shore’s treatment plant was swamped.

- Many Austinites remember a Sunday tradition of picnicking amongst the pecan trees on the Norwood property when they were children, thus proving that Norwood was - back in the day - exactly what our city wants now: an urban destination park!

- Later still, a more modern generation would head to Norwood after nights at the Vulcan Gas Company or the Armadillo World Headquarters, sneak into the pool, and enjoy a moonlight skinny-dip.

Do you have memories of Norwood? Did it play a role in your life?
Please
let us know! We're collecting stories and we'd love to hear yours.
(
send us a message)

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