Tag Archives: Round Top Antique Festival

Austin Heritage Homes Tour 2013: Coolest Old Stuff in Town

1 Apr

Walls-LaRue House The common thread for our recent stories seems to be “old stuff”.  But between the Round Top Antique Festival and the Preservation Austin*Heritage Homes Tour (and of course the fact that you’re reading this on Red Chair Market) the theme is actually really cool old stuff.

So this upcoming weekend is a cool-old-stuff lollapalooza. Start at Round Top (see our tips from last week) then cap it off Saturday with a visit to some of the homes that may have originally housed those treasures. (See the deets and a chance to win tickets at the end of the article).

The theme for this year’s tour is Historic Austin Homes and Gardens, so I’m quivering with anticipation to see not only the architecture, but the grounds.  The 6 properties encompass a wide range of Austin history, with each home showcasing its own take on preserving the past while living in the present.

I got a chance to talk to Jacqui Schraad, Executive Director of Preservation Austin, to get a bit of scoop.  When asked which property most captured her imagination, she said the James Smith Homestead was her favorite trip back in time.  Built in 1841, it was herewhen Austin was a little burg called Waterloo (I apologize in advance if you spend the rest of the day humming ABBA’s Waterloo).

Here are a few more fun facts and secret details from Jacqui and her team of House Captains:

The Academy (Mather-Kirkland House), built in 1889

400 Academy This gorgeous example of Queen Anne style was built at the height of the Victorian era using granite left over from the construction of the State Capitol building. It was owned for a time by iconic Austin architect Sinclair Black. The current owners have occupied the house since 1982 and have undertaken major restoration work.

Keep an eye out for:

  • -The belvedere with amazing Austin views
    -The stuffed peacock in the dining room.  Apparently current owner had a flock of peacocks that she’d had for years when she moved into the house. They’d lived at Academy for a little while when the 5 widows that lived on the street came down all at once to tell them that they couldn’t tolerate the peacock noise. The peacocks had to find a new home and they found a stuffed peacock at Round Top that now resides in the dining room.

James Smith Homestead (Boggy Creek Farm) built in 1838

Boggy Creek Farm Built by James and Elizabeth Smith when “Waterloo” was just a village with dirt streets, log cabins and simple plank houses. Can you imagine?  Not even a TacoDeli.

The current owners acquired the five-acre farm in 1992 and have celebrated its history by turning it in to one of the few truly urban farms in the country.  They grow fresh produce which is sold on market days (Wednesdays and Saturdays) at their farm stand under the ancient live oak tree.

Fun Fact from the owners:
“We named Boggy Creek Farm in honor of the no-longer meandering creek that lies, forever encased in cement, behind the houses across Lyons Road. As a confirmation of the name choice, when we took the concrete lid off of the 150-year old hand-dug well, we discovered, etched in script on the lid: Boggy Creek.”

Hackett House, built in 1920

Hackett House Four generations of the Hackett family lived in this 1920 two-story Prairie style brick house (no, not all at the same time). As typical with the Prairie style, architectural elements of the home emphasize strong horizontal lines. Interior Arts and Crafts features include exposed wood beams and wood trim. It has been lovingly restored and updated to be a practical home for a modern family who also respect its history.

Don’t Miss:

The restored craftsman style trim throughout the home.  Oak and pine floors were intentionally not sanded, in order to allow the natural patina of the wood to remain.

PS: This house will be on the market soon!  Here’s your chance to grab a piece of Austin history.  Although you may have to fight me for it.

Dill-White House, built in 1893

Dill White House The current owner found all sorts of native and adapted plans like quince, spirea, narcissus and blue bonnets, as well as pecan, American elm and fig trees in the garden.  The original plantings have been enhanced addition of period-appropriate brick and limestone walks, paths and terraces.  The gardens are beautiful by day and breathtaking at night under the glow of the nearby Moonlight Tower.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled For:

The original details including the dentil molding, brick chimney, flatwork and cogged porch brackets, the front and east sides of the house are completely original.

Brunson House, built in 1917

Brunson House A beautiful example of Craftsman style, this house has been lovingly updated several times, with each renovation being done with particular attention to historic detail.  The house retains all its original woodwork, doors, long-leaf pine floors, windows and shutters as well as the four light fixtures in the living room and the chimney.  Push-button light switches are still used throughout the house.

Don’t Miss:

-Woodwork restoration master craftsmen Bill Breaux and Janine Bergin will be at the Brunson House during the tour demonstrating the tools of their trade and the artistry involved.
-Unique elements in the landscape including: a wheel from one of the trolley cars that operated on S. Congress Avenue until 1940, a 5 light antique dragon post lamp that provides a wonderful ambiance at night and a teacup dog agility course.

Wells-LaRue House, Built circa 1850

Wells LaRue House

Owned by Austin architect Tim Cuppett, this house was featured in Country Living magazine a few years ago. Built in the classic single-story, “dogtrot” style first popular in the early 19th century, the house originally featured a center hallway open to the outdoors on both ends, and with a large room on each side.

The Ancestor Keeps Watch:

Don’t miss the portrait of Wayman Wells, the property’s original owner, in the master bedroom.

So now you’re primed and ready to go! 

Austin Heritage Homes Tour Tickets and Information

“Historic Homes & Gardens”
Saturday, April 6, 2013
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
$23 members / $28 non-members
$23 Children 12 and under

Have fun, and if you’re inspired consider joining Preservation Austin to help further their mission. Donate directly, or bid on a fantastic weekend getaway at the Prarie B&B (owned by Shabby Chic founder Rachel Ashwell) in, you guessed it, Round Top!

*In case you didn’t know, The Heritage Society of Austin recently changed its name to Preservation Austin, to more accurately reflect their mission of preserving Austin’s treasured places.

Round Top Antique Festival: Wow (Or: Things We’ve Learned from our First Visit)

25 Mar

Round Top Antiques Festival hoof lampAfter living in Austin for 16 years I still had yet to visit the Round Top Antique Festival (for those in the know, simply “Round Top”).  Given my furniture obsession of late, it seemed like this was the year to remedy that omission.  I naively thought that I could run out there for a few hours, then write a concise and supremely useful story for our loyal followers about the event. What a noob.

Unaware of my folly, I packed up 10 year-old Mr. Enthusiasm (who has a love of all things weird and old) gassed up the car and headed east. I had looked up some information online and was already a bit overwhelmed, so we decided to start at the Blue Hills Show to visit our friend Chotsie of Reworks.  We had a blast wandering through tents housing at least 100 vendors—finding treasures from a 8-foot-long carved and inlaid chest to an (ahem) unique cloven-hoofed lamp. We lost track of time and had to race home after several hours, managing to not have spent a penny!

Round Top Antiques Reworks booth

Reworks’ gorgeous booth.

Well, my friends, apparently we went to the Louvre and only saw the Mona Lisa. The Blue Hills show, with its 100+ vendors, is actually just a tiny fraction of the full event.  By the first week in April there will be literally thousands of vendors, tents and shops, all spread out in somewhat random fashion between Highways 290 and 71.

It’s amazing and oddly charming that, in this day of overproduced and orchestrated events, Round Top still seems to be somewhat organic.  There isn’t one “official” organizer; it’s evolved over 40-some years to be a loosely-collected set of individual shows.  Some venues charge an entrance fee, some don’t. Some have porters, some don’t.  There are no official hours that I can find.

Seven Things to Know about the Round Top Antique Festival

So even after a visit and lots of research I’m still kind of confused, but definitely intrigued.  Here are a few things we’ve figured out so far:

  • “Shows” begin appearing as soon as March 22nd and continue to pop up over the course of the next three weeks
  • The “official” Round Top Antiques Week is April 2nd through 7th , at that point everyone is there; all the food trailers, big dealers, mimes, etc. (OK, no mimes thankfully).
  • There are five big main shows; the original Big Red Barn and Big Red Barn Tent, the Marburger Farm Antiques Show, the Continental Tent and Carmine Dance Hall.
  • Smaller stores, shows and tents stretch from Carmine to south of La Grange.
  • Most shows feature a wide variety of styles, prices and vintages; some are known slightly more for one thing than another, but it’s generally a happy mix of treasures.
  • A few of the shows charge admission, but only $10 or so.
  • A very comprehensive (although also overwhelming) magazine is produced about the show, available as a PDF or to pick up at most of the venues.  There’s a great pull-out map section that will give you a sense of the scope (flip to page 67).

Round Top Antiques Festival magazine

Tips for Enjoying the Round Top Antique Festival

So we’re definitely going back, just like we’re going back to the Louvre. It’s clearly impossible to become an expert after one short trip; I’m guessing it’s almost impossible to become an expert at all…that’s part of the fun.  But based on our limited experience and the advice of some much more seasoned sellers and shoppers, we’ve got a slightly random collection of tips to help you enjoy your trip:

  • Head out as soon as you can, things get bonkers as the weeks go on.  Maybe even plan on two trips.
  • Don’t get caught in a speed trap on your way out there, there are lots of tiny towns between Austin and Round Top with overprotective police forces.
  • Wear comfy shoes, and ones that can handle some dust.  Many of the floors are gravel or dirt.
  • According to our sources, the Blue Hills area has the best bathrooms and the BBQ from the United Methodist Men is not to be missed.
  • Royers Round Top Cafe has great food and takes online reservations, a visit to the JW Steakhouse is also recommended.
  • While there are no official hours for the free shows, most vendors are open from 9-ish to dusk.
  • There are some fun-sounding evening events, check out page 27 of the magazine. Just be careful with the wine, you may come home with the hoof lamp!
  • This is not always the bargain-hunter’s paradise. While there are deals to be had, most amateurs will probably miss them.  Go for the amazing selection and variety, not necessarily the price.
  • Do not carry a large bag.  You will knock something over, probably something expensive that you would not buy normally.

If you decide to go, let us know what you discover! Maybe we’ll see you out there next week. See Pinterest for some more pics of our trip.

A few more helpful links:

Another calendar with slightly different info

Round Top Folk Art Fair (run by the original founder of the Festival)

The “original” Round Top Antique Fair

Local restaurants