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A History Of Pemberton Heights And Some Of Its Historic Homes

Jul 9, 2008
Pemberton Heights is the name of a historic area of Old West Austin. The gateway to Pemberton Heights is considered to be the Keith House, at 2400 Harris, and this historic home was built in 1933 and has an unobstructed view of the Texas Capitol building from the front balcony, since it is located in the northern area of Austin's State Capitol view zone.

The Keith House exhibits characteristics of both the Monterey Revival style as well as the Colonial Revival Style, with a wooden balcony and low-pitched roof, as well as varied exterior wall materials. This home is considered to be the earliest example of the Monterey Revival Style in the Austin area, and has chimneys at the gable ends, a central hallway, and shutters throughout, illustrating the Colonial Revival style. Two other historic and majestic homes in the neighborhood are Pemberton Castle, also known as the Fisher-Gideon home, at 1415 Wooldridge Drive, and the Catterall Mills House, at 2524 Harris, very near the Keith House.

Pemberton Castle is a limestone structure, with ivy-covered walls, which was built in 1926 from the remnants of an old cistern that was built on the spot in the late 1800s, and which was originally used to help Austin's first fire fighters access water in the area. The home was originally owned by Judge John Harris, of Galveston, who was one of the earliest settlers to the area, and for whom Harris Boulevard is named. Harris was the Attorney General of Texas in the 1940s under then-governor Elisha Pease, for whom Pease Park is named, and Pease and Harris were real estate partners at the time. In 1925, the tower of the home was converted into a gothic structure by Samuel Fisher and his wife, Lucille.

The neighborhood was named Pemberton Heights about the same time, in 1927, when the developers filed a plat with the Travis County Clerk's office for the first home in the new subdivision to be called Pemberton Heights. Shortly thereafter, the Castle became the sales office for the new development.

The Catterall Mills House was built in 1937 in the style of Early American Georgian Revival, and it is a plain, symmetrical, wooden structure covered with red wood siding. The home was bought by the Chester Family in 1999, and features some very unusual architectural amenities, including a bomb shelter built in the backyard during the Cold War. There is also an Italian marble fireplace and many stained-glass windows throughout the home.

Pemberton Heights roughly encompasses the area from the intersection of MoPac and Windsor, south along Windsor Rd., and north along Shoal Creek to 29th Street. The street which encompasses the eastern edge is Harris Boulevard, which eventually intersects with Northwood and then Jefferson. Westover Road is considered the last bordering street of the neighborhood, and the land contained within these boundaries is generally considered to be Pemberton Heights.

Today there is a very active neighborhood association in the subdivision, open to all residents, and some of the issues they are involved with include the preservation of trees and other foliage, less expansion by the MoPac into the neighborhood, and retaining the historic character, as well as creating and maintaining a pedestrian friendly environment in Pemberton Heights.

Today, residents and visitors can become knowledgeable about issues by reading the Pemberton Journal, which is published by the neighborhood association, and the subdivision has numerous single-family dwellings for sale and rent as well as condominiums and apartments available for rent.
About the Author
Ki works in the Austin real estate market and helps clients looking for Pemberton Heights homes. His site has a free search of the Austin MLS.
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