Project Playback: Norwood House

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Norwood House restores Heritage Trees with APF Grant

In December of 2016, Norwood Park Foundation received a grant from Austin Parks Foundation to aid in the restoration project on Norwood House. This historic Austin home has been around for almost 100 years, but for many of those it sat unused. Because of this, the structure is in need of some help in order to bring it back to its former glory.

Built in 1922 by Ollie and Calie Norwood, the home is an asian-inspired, California bungalow house, originally named “Norcliff”. It sits high above the water on the south side of Lake Austin, giving it a spectacular view of the city. The original home had many features such as gardens, greenhouses, tennis courts and a spring fed swimming pool.

After the Norwoods died, their land caught the interest of many real estate developers. Many locals who grew up swimming in the pool and picking pecans on the Norwood Estate fought back against these developers. In the 1980s one developer got as far as moving the house off its foundation before abandoning the project due to economic struggles. The City bought the house in 1985, but due to a lack of funding at the Parks & Recreation Department and other mitigating factors, the house was left off its foundation, steadily declining over the next decade and a half.

The Women’s Chamber of Commerce made an attempt in the 1990s to have the house turned into an economic center and sculpture garden, but the plan was not supported by the city. Although unsuccessful, they were able to raise money in 1999 to have the house moved back to its original site.

Finally in 2008, the South River City Citizens formed a group called the Norwood Posse, dedicated to raising awareness about Norwood House in order to raise funds to restore it. Eventually, in 2011, after many years of working with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, they recognized that the city’s budget did not have room for the project, and would not for the foreseeable future. Norwood Park Foundation was then created as a way to raise awareness and funds for the project from private donors, and grants such as the one from Austin Parks Foundation. The $3,400 grant from APF went toward root collar clearing, trimming and other maintenance on heritage trees on the property. Norwood Park Foundation plans to restore the house to reflect its history, while also updating it, and that allowing it to be rented and used by the public for events, similar to the Zilker Clubhouse. The building itself will be self-sustaining, with all profits from events going toward upkeep and preservation.

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