Accessibility Navigation

Jump to:

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. In a perfect world, all of our parks would be fully funded and the assets therein well cared for. But in today’s world, municipal budgets are strained. The City of Austin is no exception.

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 needs of the 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 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

connect

End of menu. Jump to Accessibility Menu

Main Content

FAQs

1. If the house is on public parkland, why isn't the City doing this work?

With the public clamoring for reduced taxes, it's getting harder and harder for cities and states across the country to maintain their parks - Austin included. PARD simply has no funding to do preservation work or maintain staff for new or restored facilities like Norwood, and this park never rose to the top of the long needs list for bond funding in the past. Because the house was in imminent danger of collapse, and because there was demonstrated, longstanding will to save it, NPF mobilized to negotiate an agreement to first stabilize the house, then implement the full project over multiple years to get this important work done in a creative public/private partnership with the City.

2. The house is really deteriorated. Why is it worth restoring in the first place?

This is an unusually elegant 1922 California Craftsman bungalow, with exquisite features, in a spectacular setting that represents an Arts & Crafts ideal. As the original, iconic element of Norwood Park - a prominent gateway to historic Travis Heights - the home was the centerpiece of an important cultural site for the city. And even though it's still an ugly duckling for now, the house is no longer so deteriorated! Our early donors have made it possible for NPF to accomplish Phase 1 of the project, which has provided environmental remediation, a formidable new foundation on piers drilled to bedrock, and complete stabilization of the wood structure and roof. Accordingly, the house is stable for now, and ready to transform and wow people again!

3. I've heard of Zilker Clubhouse - is your project similar?

Yes, in some ways it is. The Clubhouse, like Norwood, is an historic Arts & Crafts structure on public parkland that is operated as a rental venue. Both structures overlook Lady Bird Lake - the Clubhouse is located to the west, near Mopac, and Norwood is to the east, near I-35. The difference is that the Clubhouse is very rustic and is not air-conditioned, though it does have a fantastic terrace and view. Norwood will be a more refined, air-conditioned, newly-redone facility, with its own terrace and knockout view. The Clubhouse is so popular you have to book a year in advance using a lottery system. We have a feeling Norwood will be just as much in demand!

4. What's the scope of the project in a nutshell?

This is exciting! We'll:


  • restore the house and repurpose it by completely opening up the interior

  • add a rear terrace and new connecting outdoor spaces to supplement the historic gardens, which will be rehabilitated

  • rebuild the historic "teahouse" gazebo as well as a new, functional space that honors the former greenhouse

  • build modest accessory structures that highlight beautiful natural areas to the west while helping the entire property function as well as possible

  • improve ingress and egress at Norwood, and provide new parking


5. How will the house and grounds be used? Who will operate it?

NPF will operate the house as a rental venue and community meeting space, with plans for museum hours so everyone has a chance to see the property. Notably, NPF is not a traditional concessionaire; all revenues over expenses will be retained by our nonprofit organization solely for the benefit of the Norwood House and Norwood Park. The beauty of this plan is that because the location and site are so desirable, the entire operation will be 100% self-sustaining.

6. How did NPF come to be the restoring entity?

NPF is the evolution of many decades of Austinites who've fought to protect the house from demolition and retain the park for the people. Before NPF there was the Norwood Posse, and before that was the Women's Chamber of Commerce, and before that was the SRCC (South River City Citizens) and just plain ol' citizens. NPF formed as PARD was finishing its Feasibility Study for Norwood Park in 2010/11; we worked with the City in a public process to take on this daunting task in a way that conforms to PARD's general plan for Norwood while being minimally dependent on the taxpayer.

7. What about the swimming pool?

We're frequently asked about the old pool, because it was a fantastic amenity back in the day. Because of liability and lack of funding, the City filled in the pool with dirt many years ago. As part of a future phase to beautify and naturalize the overall tract, there is expectation to honor the spirit of the pool with some type of water feature or other special amenity, and connect the upper and lower areas. But for now, NPF has no jurisdiction in this area of Norwood Park.

8. Are my donations tax deductible? How is my money being used?

Yes, all donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. NPF is a Texas 501(c)3 nonprofit. Your money will go directly toward rehabilitation of this public park asset and its permanent protection; this is the sole purpose for and project of the Norwood Park Foundation.

9. How long is the work going to take?

That depends on you! Most if not all of the needed funds must be raised before we can start Phase 2 construction. If we raise the money quickly, we'll be able to sail right into work as soon as all the site plans are approved. We think actual construction could be completed within 18 months. Keeping fingers crossed for operations sometime in 2019!

10. What about parking? I don't see much available right now.

NPF will be constructing an eco-friendly, beautifully landscaped parking lot inside park boundaries, directly across the street (Edgecliff Terrace) from the house, where a tennis court was once located on the estate. This lot will provide most of what is needed for events that will normally be limited to 150. We anticipate the use of ride-sharing resources and shuttle systems on occasion. The parking lot will be available for general park visitors when the house is not being rented.

11. What will happen with the dog park that's at Norwood now?

NPF has no jurisdiction over the area of the current dog park. The "Preferred Alternative" for Norwood Park, adopted in 2011 by the PARD Board, calls for the current OLA (off-leash area) to be reduced in size to a section in the southeast part of the overall Norwood tract. A buffer between the house and dog park user groups will be in place by the time operation of the house begins. Ultimately, the people of Austin will decide what happens with all of the acreage of the Norwood tract.

12. What can I do to help?

1- we are eager to hear people's stories about Norwood in former years; if you have memories of the house or the park, let us know!

2- email us, too, to let us know you're a supporter, no obligation; when/if we need your advocacy we will have your contact.

3- email us if you're interested in volunteering either now or when the house is in operations in future.

4- but mostly, we need financial and/or in-kind donations. No amount is too small. Our endeavor has only been possible through years of grassroots efforts and contributions big & small. Keep an eye on our "What's New" blog for news on fundraising.

Together, we can do this. Please join with us to bring the Norwood House back, and by doing so: KEEP AUSTIN ORIGINAL!


End of page contents. Jump to Accessibility Menu

Ancilliary Content