A graduate historic preservation studio at The University of Texas at Austin selected Humanities Texas's Byrne-Reed House as a major semester project this fall. Led by professors Michael Holleran and Wayne Bell, the students conducted historical and architectural research about the Byrne-Reed House and the surrounding neighborhood.

The students studied the Byrne-Reed House over a period of several weeks, peaking above the acoustical tile and taking measurements to reconstruct the original floorplan and to provide a snapshot of the historical materials that remain. In the course of their on-site explorations, Casey Gallagher and Shonda Mace even discovered a small vaulted foyer to the west of the staircase that hadn't previously been known to exist.

Their research will inform our efforts as the restoration progresses. Robyn Williams Heeks's computer modelling illustrates how the restoration will lower energy use. In addition to providing useful information about the historical milieu of the surrounding neighborhood, Shonda identified a nearby house likely designed by the same architect or builder. Tenaya Hills and Casey Gallagher have helped Humanities Texas begin to consider how best to restore existing interior and exterior materials and to reconstruct missing elements, and Namrata Venkatraman's thorough documentation of the floorplan will assist in our initial planning.

After presenting their findings to architectural professionals and peers in a studio review on October 1, the students shared this research with Humanities Texas board members and other guests during a building tour in mid-October.

We are delighted that the building already serves an educational function and look forward to continuing our collaboration with UT Austin and other interested organizations through the course of the restoration.

UT preservation student Casey Gallagher presents her research to members of the Humanities Texas board. Photo by Humanities Texas.
Building tour with architecture students. Photo by Humanities Texas.