For more than forty years, "commuters sped by on 15th Street without guessing that a historical treasure lay beneath an exterior more appropriate for an insurance office," writes Michael Barnes in a recent Austin American-Statesman article on the Byrne-Reed House. Each week, the house regains more and more of its original splendor and elegant proportions. Recently, a three-inch layer of concrete was carefully removed to expose the original tile in excellent condition. This beautiful diamond-patterned tile covers the newly revealed first-floor terrace.
This tile is encaustic, which means that the variation in color is due to the color of the clay itself rather than glazing. This contributes to the pattern's longevity, as the color remains even as the tile is worn down.
Below, another exciting discovery: part of the original metal railing from the second-floor porch along the home's south side.
The two photos below depict the original brick arches of the first-floor terrace, most of which were filled in during a subsequent renovation to create additional office space.
Porch stairs were recently uncovered on the east side of the building, facing Rio Grande. The photographs below compare the stairs today with how they appeared in a 1930s Reed family photo.
Another exciting development is the reemergence of the original yellow brick. Now that the 1970s stucco shell and decorative columns have been fully removed, the white paint covering the original brick is being stripped away, as in this view of the building's north facade.
Perhaps the best news is that the building is beginning to resemble its former self, now that the first- and second-floor porches have been uncovered. Contrast these historic views of the house with its appearance on December 3, 2009. First, compare these views of the southeast corner, facing Rio Grande Street.
Contrasting views of the building's northeast corner, from the intersection of 15th Street and Rio Grande Street, below:
Humanities Texas is entering the final stages of its capital campaign supporting the restoration of the Byrne-Reed House. We are immensely grateful to the individuals and foundations who have contributed to this project and would appreciate any and all additional support. Your contributions will help us receive the full $1 million in matching funds from our NEH Challenge grant. If you would like to donate to the capital campaign, please mail contributions to:
1410 Rio Grande Street
Austin, TX 78701
To learn more about the Byrne-Reed House, visit the Byrne-Reed House page on our website.