A storied, neglected South Austin estate has finally received a long-sought—and long-debated—official Texas Historical Marker, to be marked by a Friday ceremony.
The Ollie O. Norwood Estate, located on a hill above the river at the north end of Travis Heights (and also just west of the city’s Norwood Dog Park), has been the subject of much anguish, argument, and inaction on the part of the city, its neighborhood, and other citizens for decades.
The site was originally owned by Ollie Osborn Norwood, who had an elegant, Craftsman-style home designed by Hugo Franz Kuehne, a founder of the UT School of Architecture, and built in 1922. beautiful garden and grounds, sited amid beautiful old trees on a bluff overlooking the lake.
The Norwood property eventually encompassed five pastoral acres of what was then the new Travis Heights neighborhood that included the main residence, formal and vegetable gardens, a large gazebo overlooking the Colorado Rive, a split-level greenhouse, a spring-fed swimming pool with plumbed bathhouses, tennis courts, a large pecan orchard, and two separate bungalows for in-laws.
While Norwood maintained the estate during the Depression, the state took its eastern portion for the construction of IH-35 in 1953. The estate was sold many times after Norwood’s death in 1961, and the centerpiece house was moved several times, which, along with neglect, caused its steady and significant deterioration.
The land was bought by the city (which also moved the house), made into a park, then taken up as a cause by the Norwood Park Foundation (which moved it again, to its current spot, in 2015). The now-dilapidated structure has been stabilized, with plans to restore and repurpose it in the works.
More information about Friday’s ceremony is available via the Norwood Park Foundation.