At its Dec. 5 meeting, Leander City Council voted 6-1 to have drawings and a survey completed on the house. Council Member Christine Sederquist voted against the action.
These steps will lay out the various components of the property, such as the floor plan and what underground utilities exist. The documents are needed so that the city can examine what options are possible for the Davis House’s future, city spokesperson Mike Neu said.
“Without professionals taking a look at it, we couldn’t entertain options,” Neu said. “It’s the first step in the process.”
The initial drawings and survey will likely cost the city less than $50,000, according to Neu.
During a workshop ahead of the Dec. 5 meeting, council discussed possible options for the house with Charles John, a principal of architecture and design for HSI Design Group who specializes in the restoration and renovation of historic properties. John shared some possibilities of what the city could do with the home, including transferring the property to a nonprofit so the home becomes eligible for grant funding, renting out the home and pursuing an official historic designation.
John said the initial drawings and survey are a necessary starting point in the project.
“From what I know right now, there is no documentation on the house,” John said. “We need a place to start.”
Since March, Leander’s Historical Preservation Commission and Public Arts Commission have been tasked with working together to discover options for the future of the Davis House. Members of the community created a nonprofit, Friends of the Davis House, to support the home earlier this year.
The Davis House is named after its former tenants, the Davis family, who owned the home from 1949-2006. Jimmie Joe Davis, a fiddle maker and musician, owned the home until his death in 2004.
The city of Leander took ownership of the Davis House in 2006, and its planning department used the space as an office until February 2018.
Leander City Council has been discussing the Davis House since January 2018, when it hired architects to complete a historical evaluation on the house. The architects then delivered a presentation to council in July 2018, stating the house is significant, since Leander does not have many remaining historic structures in Old Town. At the time, though, council voted not to move forward with future assessments of the house due to concerns about losing money.
After an agenda item to discuss obtaining “quotes for demolishing the Davis House” was placed on a meeting agenda in March, several Leander residents attended the meeting to express concerns about losing the house. Council then voted to direct city commissions and staff to look at potential uses for the home.