Old Judges Hill Historic District

A Proposed Austin Local Historic District

Local Historic Districts

The Austin City Council passed an ordinance allowing for the establishment of local historic districts (“LHDs”) with the stated purpose of preservation.

In 1851 Elijah Sterling Clark Robertson built Judges Hill’s first home near the corner of 18th and San Gabriel. The house was subsequently demolished in 1966. Over the last century many historic homes have been destroyed in the Old Judges Hill area, but the current teardown trend evident in Tarrytown, Travis Heights and other parts of town -- one that irreparably changes the character of a neighborhood as fine historic homes are demolished to make way for new houses -- has not taken hold in the Old Judges Hill area. Nor has the other current building trend, i.e. high-rise residential towers, taken hold in the area as it has in Downtown Austin.

Residents have expressed a desire to maintain the neighborhood’s current land use pattern, but they recognize the difficult issues involved in trying to preserve a neighborhood while also respecting the rights of the property owners within it. To this end, a Local Historic District Committee has submitted an application to the City of Austin to establish the Old Judges Hill Local Historic District.

Benefits of a Local Historic District

  1. A LHD will protect your investments as owners and residents of historic properties and the neighborhood at large.
  2. LHD's encourage better quality design in new structures which must be in keeping with the overall feeling and design standards set by the LHD.
  3. A LHD can result in a positive economic impact on the city as a whole by providing for a greater diversity of structures in the urban environment.
  4. The protection a LHD affords can enhance business recruitment potential.
  5. The educational benefits of creating LHD’s are the same as those derived from a historic preservation effort. Historic districts establish a tangible link to a city’s past, providing added meaning for both its past and its current population. Districts help explain the development of a place, the source of its inspiration and technological advances. They are a record of our communities and of ourselves.
  6. LHD’s provide social and psychological benefits: the comfort found in human scale environments, the desire to live and work in attractive surroundings, the emotional stability gained by maintaining recognizable and walkable neighborhoods, and the galvanizing effects of community-based group action. These are all direct results of most local historic district ventures.
  7. There are some potential tax benefits for homes in LHD’s. In addition, structures located in historic districts are safeguarded from demolition and tend to appreciate in value.
  8. LHD’s are a source of civic pride.

Restrictions of a Local Historic District

The residents included in the local historic district will define the criteria to be applied within the LHD. These can be as strict or lenient as the neighborhood decides, but they must promote the long-term stability and integrity of structures within the neighborhood. These criteria are viewed as a part of the city’s zoning code and are therefore binding in the same way as are other zoning requirements. The Old Judges Hill Historic District Committee, with input from district residents, Preservation Austin, and the City of Austin Historic Preservation Department has developed recommended design standards as part of the application.

Old Judges Hill LHD Committee

  • Bill Monroe
  • Bob Swaffer
  • Mark Seeger
  • Jeff Harper
  • Jay Tassin
  • Megan Meisenbach
  • Betsy Christian
Contact the committee