Brava House is one of the original Victorian homes in Austin, built in 1889 by Minus Culver in historic Old West Austin near Clarksville, a central neighborhood with a unique character that is also on the National Register Historic District. Old west Austin was founded as an African-American freedman’s community in 1871. The property was originally owned by Texas Gov. E.M. Pease, who gave the land to his former slaves in 1863 as an effort to keep them as workers on his plantation.
Our section of the city, known as Old West Austin, embraces some of the city’s most prestigious addresses and exemplifies the diverse people that built Austin. It represents one of the oldest continuous neighborhoods in Austin. The area contains a rich set of historical elements ranging from residential properties to community sites and businesses, which demonstrate a clear picture of Austin from the late 1800’s.
Old West Austin is bordered on the west by West Lynn, on the south by 6th Street, and north by Enfield Avenue. It remains a mix of comfortable, modest homes and some gentrified houses. Within the neighborhood are several shops, bakeries, a pottery store, and restaurants, including one of Austin’s top dining spots, Jeffrey’s. Old West Austin is a favorite place for city residents to visit.
A Moonlight Tower, one of the 17 remaining in Austin, still stands at the corner of 12th and Blanco, across the street from Brava House. The towers have been in operation for over 100 years. They have only been turned off three times since their original installation. The Moonlight Towers were completely restored in the mid 1990s by the City of Austin.
In 1869 the Texas Military Institute (TMI) was built on West 11th Street. Because of its unique Victorian Gothic architecture, it is often referred to as “The Castle”. It is the oldest existing college building in Texas. “The Castle” as well as 2 of the faculty homes (at 1106 W. 10th Street and 1109 W. 10th Street) are designated Austin Landmarks. Just down the street from Brava House, “The Castle” on Castle Hill is worth checking out while enjoying a walk through our neighborhood.
Resting in the middle of historic Clarksville, the beautiful topography of this park makes it a West Austin treasure. West Austin Park was the original site of the Clarksville Jazz Festival (now held in Pease Park). The snug urban park features a fenced off-leash dog area, pool, picnic shelter & playground. The park has long been a place for the residents of the neighborhood to swim, walk their dogs or just enjoy a nice day.
Even though only one-third of the original tree survives, the 600-year-old Treaty Oak stands on Baylor Street between West 5th Street and West 6th Street. Treaty Oak served as a temple and meeting place for area Comanches and Tonkowas; legend has it that Stephen F. Austin signed a boundary treaty there with the local Indians in the 1800s.