Travis Heights 78704
A Brief History of the Neighborhood
In 1878 Charles Augustus Newning, an agent for a New York banking company, arrived in Austin and saw an opportunity and the need in Texas burgeoning capital city to create quality suburban development close to the city's center. Though Newning was immediately taken by the broken, rugged bluffs on the south bank of the Colorado river, irregular access across the flood-prone river was a major problem. Since Austin's earlier days, a ferry had served South Austin from the foot of Congress Avenue. In the 1870's a wooden pontoon bridge, which washed away with each flood, spanned the river to serve the few residents living in south Austin. Realizing that a more reliable access to South Austin would be shortly established, Newning formed a partnership 1n 1880 with William H. Stacy and George Warner and purchased 200 acres on south bank of the river east of Congress Avenue to Fowber's Creek (now called Blunn Creek). Subsequently, a stone toll bridge was opened across the river in 1883, and in 1886 a parade down Congress Avenue marked the opening of the first permanent free bridge to serve South Austin.
Newning took the lead in the partnership and named Austin's first planned subdivision Fairview Park because it had a “fair view” of the city from the bluffs. The partners hoped to encourage wealthy Austinites by laying out a model residential development with graded, curving streets, utilities, and extensive landscaping and large lots. The large lots were advertised as estates, suggesting their comparison to country estates and manor houses. Unfortunately, Congress Avenue rapidly developed and the developers failed to provide a buffer between it and the new subdivision. Consequently most investors looked for other more protected areas to build. The original plan for Fairview estates never took off, though some of the original estates remain today.
The next addition to the area was the Swisher Addition south of Fairview Park, which was part of John Swisher's family estate in south Austin. Its success is attributed to the many charming and affordable homes built there. In 1913, Mr Newning, Mr Swisher and General Stacy planned a new subdivision east of Fairview Park and the Swisher Addition known as Travis Heights. Based on his earlier experience with Charles Newning, General Stacy laid out his South Austin subdivision with both curving and grid streets and provided lot sizes and prices to fit a range of customers, from the builders of modest bungalows to grand home-sites with commanding vistas. To promote the properties the General ran streetcars from the Capitol to Travis Heights. He also incorporated deed restrictions against multi-family and commercial development to ensure that Travis Heights would remain a residential enclave. Land adjoining Blunn Creek was dedicated as a public park known as Stacy Park.
Travis Heights was an immediate success and a great surge of home building took place in the 1920's, so that by the Generals death in 1928, 600 lots had been sold and more than 160 homes built. After General Stacy's death, his three sons , Harwood, Gillespie, and Franklin Stacy, took overt heir father's interests and continued to develop Travis Heights.
From its inception over 100 years ago area residents are proud to live in one of Austin's oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods.
References taken from Travis Heights...“A Critical Period” a report prepared for: South River City Citizens by University School of Architecture 1974.