Leander’s Historical Preservation Commission and Public Arts Commission are working together to discover options for the future of the Davis House, a home built around 1891 in Old Town Leander. After hearing testimonies from community members, Leander City Council voted unanimously March 7 to direct the commissions and staff to look at potential uses for the home.
Marshall Hines, a member of the Historical Preservation Commission and the Leander Planning and Zoning Commission, said he was pleased with the council’s decision. Hines said he and a few others are organizing a nonprofit called Friends of the Davis House to help with fundraising for the home.
“We feel confident there is support for the Davis House,” Hines said.
Jennifer Howell, a member of the Public Arts Commission, said she hopes the house can be used as an event space or a place to display art.
“We have got to have a place where we can have art showings, like a gallery,” Howell said.
The first joint meeting discussing options for the house took place March 27. Members of the commissions voted to make a recommendation to the City Council that it goes forward with a study assessing the condition of the house.
Historical Preservation Commission member Priscilla Sims said deciding on a use for the home before understanding its current state would be putting the “cart before the horse.”
The city has owned the two-story home at 104 N. Brushy St. since 2006, according to city spokesperson Mike Neu. The Leander Planning Department used the home as office space until February 2018.
Council has been discussing the Davis House since January 2018, when it hired Antenora Architects to complete a historical evaluation costing $24,828.21, Neu said.
The architects delivered a presentation to City Council in July, saying their initial study found the house is significant, since Leander has few remaining historic structures in Old Town. Council voted unanimously Sept. 6 to deny moving forward with any future assessments of the house, citing fear of losing money.
An agenda item to discuss obtaining “quotes for demolishing the Davis House” was placed on the March 7 council meeting agenda, encouraging several Leander residents to show up to express concern for the house.
The home was named after its former tenants, the Davis family, who owned it from 1949-2006. The family included Jimmie Joe Davis, a fiddlemaker and musician, who owned the house until his death in 2004.
Carolyn Bonnet, daughter of Jimmie Joe, said her family sold the house to the city after her father’s death hoping the city would restore it. She said she is glad that now options are being explored for its future use.
“I hope [it’s used] for public use so everybody can use it,” Bonnet said. “It’s part of Leander history.”