Several historic Central Austin sites set for restoration using hotel tax revenue

Several of the city’s historic venues are set for major restoration projects as the Austin Parks and Recreation Department moves forward with spending funds received through hotel occupancy tax revenue.

The department was provided with $999,211 through the hotel tax revenue in the current year’s budget. On Wednesday, the department unveiled its plan of where to spend the money.

The focus of this year’s funds is directed at the renovation of several of the city’s historic and educational landmarks. The Elisabet Ney Museum, Oakwood Cemetery Chapel, O. Henry Museum and Mayfield Park are each identified in the renovation plans.

The department will also spend $5,370 on updates and distribution of its history, arts and culture guide.

Each of the following sites is listed as a city of Austin Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

Oakwood Cemetery Chapel 

The gothic-revival structure will receive $319,140 worth of hotel tax revenue to reinforce its roofing, repair doors and windows, clean the interior, finish its carpentry and get a fresh coat of paint. The 103-year-old chapel was identified as a priority in the 2012 general obligation bond for cemeteries, and the hotel tax-funded improvements will be part of a larger $1 million renovation effort.

Elisabet Ney Museum

Considered one of the city’s most significant historic sites, the Elisabet Ney Museum sits in the center of the Hyde Park Historic District. The museum, which was the home of German sculptor Elisabet Ney, houses many of the artist’s works, and according to city documents, hosted over 22,000 visitors from across the world in 2016. Most of the $364,701 in hotel tax revenue allocated to the project will be put toward restoration of the building’s frame, windows and doors. Currently, the building’s poor climate control puts the artworks at risk. Another $25,000 will be used to restore the property's historic gate and wall.

O. Henry Museum

The Victorian home-turned-museum that sits downtown was home to short-story novelist William Sidney Porter, better known by his pen name, O. Henry. The parks department allocated $25,000 for the restoration of the porch and replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which were areas cited as critical. According to city documents, another $180,000 will go toward a Phase 1 restoration project, which will look to improve the structure’s “deteriorating conditions.”

Mayfield Park

Known for its colony of wild peacocks, Mayfield Park is part of the Mayfield-Gutsch Estate, which includes a 2-acre cottage garden and a 2-acre nature preserve. The department considers the landscape as the main historic aspect of the site, and the parks department has allocated $80,000 for the restoration of the Historic Garden Shed as well as repairs to the main building and the historic pond.