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one less mid-century modern residence

by craig denham last modified Feb 21, 2012 08:58 PM
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one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by craig denham at July 28. 2005

A great Fehr and Granger home was demolished this week near my neighborhood. It was off of Stratford drive on Canyon Circle. It's always been one of my favorites, but once I saw that it was empty, I knew it was doomed. The house was perched on a cliff over Lake Austin with a tax appraisal on the land alone at over $1 million.

Living in Rollingwood, I'm just sick at all the horrible remodels and tear downs of our Stenger and other mid-century houses. I know now that if I sell my modern home, it will be promptly destroyed.


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by craig denham at July 28. 2005

here's a photo:


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by KT Hernandez at July 28. 2005

What a loss. I'm in a very similar situation, except my house is on Lake Travis and is not as graceful. This one, however, will be very expensive to knock down due to its construction and for that reason alone it might survive -- but not if land values out here get as insane as they are on Lake Austin.

As an aside on a new kind of urban/suburban blight...

I am sickened by the number of formerly scenic hillsides here in Austin that are being overrun by the 3000-6000 s.f. Italianate bastardizations favored by the architecturally illiterate -- sorry stick-built things that will be lucky to survive a century and are as generic as they are obtrusive. A drive through the neighborhoods west of downtown reveals a similar land-value-driven gentrification -- replacement of existing smaller houses with oversized cliche structures. Austin used to savor its unique style, which admitted just about anything *except* average. So much for Austin green thinking, too -- but then I guess most of the green thinkers are living on modest budgets and can't afford nice properties...which leaves the consumer mentality (which seems to care about nothing but its own ego) to drive a continued proliferation of the unsustainable, ugly McMansion blight. :(

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Gregory La Vardera at July 28. 2005


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Mark Meyer at July 28. 2005

Sadly, last week another Fehr Grainger was demo'd just across the river in TarryTown. It was a 1953 AIA award winning design (complete with a plaque inside and everything) and it appeared in a book titled QUALITY BUDGET HOUSES: A TREASURY OF 100 ARCHITECT-DESIGNED HOUSES by
Katherine Morrow Ford, Thomas H. Creighton. I've been in touch with the direct neighbor, and she is livid, as aparently the recent buyer assured them that he wanted to renovate the property, NOT tear it down for some God forsaken monstrosity that will surely take its place.

What is this world coming to? to lose two MCMs by the same firm within two weeks?


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Susan McElroy at July 28. 2005


BOTH of them????

I adored that little screened in house, Mark, and I love the book I have with it featured...

Well, if anybody tries to lay a finger on THIS Fehr Granger, there'll be the Devil to pay...

Hear that, McBuilder, Inc.?

That's a line in the sand, boys...


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Susan McElroy at July 28. 2005

Hey, have we formed a nonprofit yet? Like maybe MCM Rescue or something? It's impossible to stop the destruction, because people can't resist the temptation to sell at those sky-high prices. Especially if there are expensive notes on the properties and high property taxes.

(Lucky THIS ONE IS PAID FOR, McJerks!)

And it's a contributing property to the Old West Austin Historical District, on the National Register. I thought getting that plaque was kind of pretentious, but I'm changing my mind...

Tomorrow evening is the Mod group at the San Jose, but how about next time we meet here? I'll start up a BBQ and it'll be BYO beer/wine and grill ingredients...

[insert emoticon rolling up shirtsleeves]

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Bradley Bechtol at August 03. 2005

I am so sad! I had incorrectly assumed it was being remodeled. My dad used to live on Canyon Circle and I used to tell my dismayed family (McMansion fans) that that was my favorite house in Austin. I'm sure the old owner could have found at least one modern-minded CAlifornian who would've paid the big bucks for it. Truly tragic.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by betsy harris at August 17. 2005

Oh dear. This is a shame. I guess I'm one of those most of the green thinkers are living on modest budgets and can't afford nice properties. I'm moving to Austin and would love to find a modest midcentury home. I would live in it. I would love it. I would not tear it down. Any suggestions as to where to look?

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Susan McElroy at August 18. 2005

2406 Pemberton Pkwy will be demolished tomorrow. This house was built in I think 1953 or so. It's in bad shape; I walked around in it the other day and it is so run down (assisted by allowing a small gang of students to party in it for over a year) that even I can't say it's worth restoring. Pretty sure the builder will be putting in a largish house, don't know if a McMansion.

For those who wonder if they can afford a MCM, the interesting thing is that this property was on the market for over $400,000 but was finally bought for around $250,000. Just found that out.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Ben Phenix at August 18. 2005

There seems to be some ok priced MCM out there (though needing some work). It seems that the majority were built in now highly desirable areas so ultra-bargins seem less common. That $250k price was pretty much land value it seems. At $400k they would have to have found someone really dedicated, with money, to restoring which is a hard match to find.

I've been working on creating a list of current available modern homes for sale. I've only made it through areas 5, 6, 8E, 4 and 1B so far (and only quickly at that), but you can find them at

Hope to add more next week when I return from a short trip.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Susan McElroy at August 27. 2005

Hey, PR for Modernism!!

Here's a link to an article in the Austin Chronicle, our alternative weekly newspaper, about one of the houses destroyed (see Mark's post). I want to start a new thread about saving/destroying these things, so I might post it again on that thread. In the meantime, enjoy and/or weep...

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Chuck Voelter at August 27. 2005

We're not the kind of people who tear down big, beautiful houses and put up other ones just to make a profit. We're trying to preserve the integrity of the neighborhood...

Oh really? what the f**k ARE you doing then? Are you going to build a home and sell it at your cost??? You're preserving NOTHING.

these people should be 'tied to the whipping post'.

I call for a media campaign against the Wheelers, put them out of business.


Couldn't Austin do without this man's business??? Is the city that desparate for more tax revenue?


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Mark Moore at September 25. 2005

I looked at the Canyon Circle home three years ago when it was on the market. Way out of my price range, especially for the size, but what a jewel. Spectacular location and lots of excellent original details - I took several photos of the fixtures and the cool intercom system. I'll see if I can dig those up to share.

I'm very sad to hear of it's passing...


Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by jakob clark at October 04. 2005

This is the only Hunter Wheeler listing in the online phonebook:

Hunter Wheeler - (512) 291-4589 - 1512 Curameng Cv, Austin, TX 78748

Hate mail anyone? Or polite begging?

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Sylvia Benini at October 27. 2005

FYI- HUNTER WHEELER LLC cell phone# 775-1602
the corrected home address for Lisa and Hunter is- 1004 DANIEL-
FYI - if you drive by any of the addresses listed below you can observe the fine MODERN infill building being done by this company .
The home that was demolished at 3714 Meredith St should never have been issued a demo permit, and Steve Sadowsky as the official researcher for the City of Austin dropped the ball by not presenting the entire information on the property to the Historical Board. If you live in Austin and happen to note that a modern residence that you admire is empty or for sale- I suggest you monitor closely (every other DAY) what is happening with the property- as only the immediate neighbors within 300 feet are supposed to be notified when a demo permit is being issued . It appears that this policy is not always adhered to, and the developers know it. It is becoming routine to demolish perfectly usable and restorable homes in our area of West Austin, sadly. Neighbors in the immediate area of the Meredith St property are concerned that the one remaining large Oak tree on a shared property line (200-250yrs old) on the site will be damaged beyond saving at the site, and have called on the city arborist and Pat Wentworth to try to save the tree. Note that 17 immature class one trees were bulldozed at the site during demolition, and 11 mature classs twos.
I also am beginning to realize that we need to insist that the current codes for tree protection be changed ,including the size of the trees from the current 59 inches at 4.5 feet above ground to 36 inches, and the cost to take out mature class one trees be raised immeditely from the current $250 - to 50% of the tax value of the tree. ( mature class one is worth minimum 25k- it should cost you 14k to take it out). We also need to get serious about enforcing current codes for residential development, by raising the fines for breaking the rules. Also, a list needs to be kept of builders/developers/demolition companies who break the rules. IF the rules are broken twice- put them outta bidness in the city limits permanently. No changing the names of the LLC's/LLP's either-cross correlate the info and publish it once year for all to know who they are. The list needs to stay in effect for a minimum of 15 years (banned from building in the city limits). If you drive by any of these addressess below you can see for yourself what HWHEELER LLC is doing in my area, info from the Travis County Tax Collectors office.

1004 Daniel- residence of Lisa and Hunter ( NOTE* in Lisas' name only ) (listed as the addy of record for HWLLC on state info) (listed as HW addy with voter records and tx drivers lc)
3405 Clearview
3407 Clearview
2707 Warren---- there are 2 properties here side by side -
3001 Cherry
5003 West Park
5001 Westfield Dr
3714 Meredith-------- in MAtthews Cristas' name
2406 Pemberton Pkwy
1612 Gaston - residence of Matthew and Crista
11720 Big TR ?

We as a community, also need to get onto the local Real Estate Board- and let them know that the current trends to demolish historical homes is NOT acceptable. So much historical stock is being demolished now that soon, our town will look like any other town in the South West. This trend needs to be reversed. Ethical Real Estate professionals do exist, tho I am beginning to think that they are few and FAR between. Also, note, HWHEELER comes by his idiocy naturally....I've been informed that the lovely POLO CLUB development on 290 West out near Dripping Springs is his Fathers' project....and they come originally from Dallas. Ideas anyone on how to educate this reprhensible developer? After all , Halloween IS coming-*CVOELTER- I am totallly in agreement with YOU.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Sylvia Benini at December 05. 2005

An update for our community here in Austin. The home that was demolished on Pemberton Pkwy near Susans' was improperly reviewed.Project redtagged by city on 11/14. The Pemberton Heights Neighborhood Association was VERY surprised to find out about this demolition permit being allowed. The home was over 50 yrs old,known as the Blossom Barnes home, was willed to UT upon her death. Once again, incorrect information provided by Steve Sadowskys' office was how the permit was 'sent though administratively' . IF YOU LOVE A MODERN HOME IN YOUR AREA THAT YOU DON'T OWN OR OCCUPY AND YOU NOTE IT HAS OR IS SELLING/ MONITOR IT.
There will be a meeting before the Historic Landmark Commission on December 19th, sign in at 630, at City Council Chambers. The Builder will be required to present his plans for the site. This is a good chance for the community of modern homes enthusiasts, especially those of us who love FEHR-GRANGER homes, to observe this company on the record in a public meeting/place. Considering that he alone is responsible for 3 of the 4 Granger homes demolished this year under questionable circumstances........this will be noted as the '2606 Pemberton Pkwy' case.
consider coming. The public can sign in and ask questions TOO about the cases before the Commission. Most importantly, the HLC needs to be aware that a LOT of us Austinites are CONCERNED about the routine demolition permits being issued WITHOUT neighbor notification OR proper historic review for our Modern housing stock that still exists.8)

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Doyle Rockwell at February 25. 2006
My wife and I have recently moved to Austin and hadn't planned on looking for a home till this fall, but we fell across a 1966 gem that left us smitten. We close on it in three days, and imagine my surprise when I found it on your list of homes. We managed to negotiate it to a more reasonable price. We were told by the neighbors that the architect designed at least a few of the homes in the area, and that it was his own home. Just about every surface needs serious TLC, but we're excited about all the potential. No McAnything happening here!

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Mark Meyer at February 26. 2006

Congrats on finding a house that you love, and thanks from all of us for wanting to preserve it/update it. We surely need more folks in this town with your mentality rather than the developer mentality.
I'd love to see more pics when you get a chance.

Mark Meyer

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Ana Watson at March 30. 2006

And another one bites the dust.
This cool house that I thought was being renovated, is instead being demolished for a large custom home. I am seriously considering getting my real estate license to help people with modern houses find buyers that are interested in preservation instead of vulgar displays of wealth.
It's the one in the second picture on Mountain Climb

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Ben Phenix at March 31. 2006

That is really too bad. I talked with one of the neighbors and he seemed a couple months ago and he seemed to be under the impression it was a renovation and not a teardown.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Jack Craig at April 03. 2006

The house mentioned at the beginning of this thread was my favorite in Austin...I loved living there. My parents bought the house from the daughters of the original owner in the early '90s and we moved in in October of 1993. My dad, who grew up in Austin, has a great sense of design and believes in staying faithful to the original architects' vision. He hired and worked closely with Steinbomer Assoc Architects to expand the garage/guest quarters and build his studio while staying true to the Fehr and Granger design. Although we had a good view of Lake Austin, the property sits above Town Lake affording spectacular views of the Capitol and Tower. For those wanting an even better view, and to impress a girlfriend, the southeastern edge of the roof had the best view around. People were always coming up to the house offering to buy eventhough it was not on the market. My folks put the house on the market in 2004 and moved just after the first of 2005. My dad would not return to the property. In fact, my mom did not tell me the fate of the house over the phone. On a return to Austin in the spring of 2005, I drove by to look at the property only to find it empty. Not so much as a foundation. I threw up. I, like my dad, cannot stomach visiting the property.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Ben Phenix at April 16. 2006

There has been an Emerson Fehr home for sale for almost 6 months now in the Tarrytown area ( Hopefully, it won't suffer the same fate as many other Fehr homes (Fehr Granger, Emerson Fehr).

It bothers me, clearly people get upset when these homes are destroyed yet there seems to be a very limited market for them when they do hit the market (one of homes references at the beginning of this thread sat for some time unsold). Fehr homes have traditionally been in some of the more upper end areas so that has certainly narrowed the buying pool further. However, for the area, this home seems within the reasonable price band.

Re: one less mid-century modern residence

Posted by Brett Greig at February 21. 2012

While this is a really old thread, I wanted to let you all know that a demo permit was just turned into the City for 2410 Pemberton Parkway.  Ms. McElroy, isn't that your old house?  My in-laws live up the hill and are protesting, but the hearing is at City Council chambers on Monday, 2/27/12.  From what I have heard, most likely the city will delay the decision (they have up to 6 months b/c of the historic nature of the neighborhood) while building a case for the house as a work of Fehr and Granger's and b/c of Professor Robert Wagner (the original owner) and his contributions to the natural sciences.

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