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Beloved Moderne landmark bought by Preservation Austin

Famed historic house set for restoration

two-story white stucco Art Moderne house
Historic house at 3805 Red River Street
Courtesy of Coldwell Banker

A prominent Austin landmark and site of a recent zoning battle will now be positioned for restoration and reuse, thanks to local nonprofit group Preservation Austin. The group announced last week that it has purchased the well-known Streamline Moderne house at 3805 Red River Street and plans to work with the city to restore the building and sustain its presence on what is now a busy thoroughfare in the central-city Hancock neighborhood.

Long beloved for its standout presence across from the Hancock municipal golf course as well as its former status as a cheap, busted-but-beautiful rental, the historic house was built in 1947 and gained a bit of reputation around 2014, when it was landmarked against the owners’s wishes after a long, public battle, with property-rights advocates, concerned citizens, and preservationists—Preservation Austin being chief among them—facing off over the stylish abode.

Dubbed the Red River International House by the city landmark commission, the two-story, white-stucco structure is one of the few Streamline Moderne houses in Austin. Its attention-getting design, with long horizontal lines, a distinctive fin, and porthole cutouts, was inspired by the power and speed of 1930s ocean liners and steam engines—the defining characteristic of the Streamline Moderne style.

The home, which was built in 1947, was recently put on the market for the first time since the 1960s. According to real-estate site Redfin, it was purchased on April 22 for its asking price, $725,000.

According to its website, Preservation Austin has contributed almost $3 million to projects citywide over the past several years, but the purchase is the organization’s “first major investment in historic buildings in decades.” Board president Vanessa McElwrath said the group is “excited to make this incredible house shine once again and looks forward to working with the neighborhood and city to develop plans that will sustain it, and our nonprofit, for years to come.”