Is Downtown Austin’s Westgate Tower Mid-Century Modern Enough To Be Historic?

I thought it would be timely to highlight a battle over landmarking a MCM tower in downtown Austin.

The Westgate Tower, perhaps the best example of a mid-century high-rise in Austin, has applied for Historic zoning. The Historic Landmark Commission (HLC) voted to approve their application.

The HLC is of the opinion that the Westgate “…is an excellent example of the New Formalism in the modern movement of architecture in the 1960s…”

Landmarking would cut the property tax bill by nearly 2/3. That money is supposed to be reinvested in the property to upkeep its historic nature.

Many Austinites think that’s baloney and the owners will just pocket the money.  HLC’s decision to recommend historic zoning for Westgate Tower to the City set off a public controversy.

Something that is clearly interesting here is the building’s ties to Fehr & Granger.

From the City staff report: “The Westgate Tower was designed by internationally-known New York architect Edward Durell Stone in 1962; the building was completed under the supervision of prominent local architects Fehr and Granger in 1966.”

And continues… “Ed Stone hired the prominent local architectural firm of Fehr and Granger to oversee the construction of the building. Fehr and Granger were locally known for their mid-century modern residential designs, and although Stone designed the exterior, Fehr and Granger were responsible for the details.”

The HLC’s background material is an interesting read (pdf).


Fehr & Granger – $1MM

I have been waiting for this listing for some time now.  It is huge on a huge and wonderful & private lot (next to Pease Park – Now with no frisbee golf!).  It also needs a fair bit of work.  The family that has it now is the second owners (purchased from the original owners in the late ’60s).  It is mostly intact but there were some modifications down, particularly to the back master suite at some point).

Given the location and the neighbors I could see this attracting teardown developers.  That would have surely happened a few years ago but perhaps lesser chance now given the overall market.  I know one of the owners (it is owned jointly by the children of family that bought it in the 60s) desperately wants to house to be restored and not torn down.

Listing details.