Saturday, April 30th
Summer in Austin, Texas, 1954. It’s hot, like, Africa hot. Most Austinites suffered through as generations had before, but some lucky residents got to bask in the cool, crisp air of an air-conditioned home courtesy of the National Association of Homebuilders.
As part of a joint project with the University of Texas, the NAHB built 22 homes with air conditioning in Allandale as part of an “Air Conditioned Village” to see what the effect of residential AC would have on the inhabitants. That seems kind of silly in a way, I mean, duh, they’d be cooler. But it turned out that it also had a significant impact on the families, from better sleep to fewer outdoor neighborhood activities.
My little 1948 cottage in Brentwood was not part of the “village”; it just had a window unit in the living room when I bought it. I slept in the living room for the first few months before I got the central AC installed, so I can very much appreciate the effect of air conditioning on one’s rest.
You’ll get to see two of these game-changing homes, along with six more mid-century examples of the post-war boom in Austin on the Preservation Austin Home Tour this year. Like many US cities, returning soldiers created a huge demand for small, affordable housing, and the north side of Austin was ripe for development. Check out some beautiful examples of mid-century building in the neighborhoods along Burnet Road, then stop for an anachronistic snack at Top Notch or a beer at Ginny’s.