East Austin mural, pool dance among Preservation Austin award winners

Plagued by congested traffic? High cost of living? Persistent inequity? Those pesky scooters?

Whenever the New Austin Blues get you down, turn to Preservation Austin and especially its annual Merit Awards. The Old Austin triumphs of stewardship, invention and rehabilitation are sometimes small, but every year, they add up.

This year’s winners include three major 19th-century structures, several homes large and small, some updated commercial buildings, an East Austin mural, a dance about community, two singular park structures and a distinguished architectural historian.

These fine people, places, culture and history will be honored at the Preservation Merit Awards Celebration at the Driskill Hotel on Friday, Oct. 19 from 11:30am to 1:30pm. It’s a treat.


220 South Congress Avenue. Contributed by Gensler.

220 SOUTH CONGRESS – Bouldin

Recipient: Cielo Property Group

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

Architect: Gensler

308 W. 35th St. Contributed by Preservation Austin

308 E. 35th – North University

Recipient: Steven Baker and Jeff Simecek

Preservation Award for Addition

409 Colorado St. Contributed by Clayton Holmes, Forge Craft Architect + Design

409 COLORADO – Downtown

Recipient: David Zedeck

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

Architect: Forge Craft Architecture + Design

Austin State Hospital. Contributed by Nathan Barry, Braun & Butler Construction


Recipient: Health & Human Services Commission

Preservation Award for Restoration

Contractor: Braun & Butler Construction

Collier House. Contributed by Andrew Calo


Recipient: Georgia Keith

Preservation Award for Addition

Architect: Elizabeth Baird Architecture & Design

For La Raza. Contributed by Philip Rogers

“FOR LA RAZA” – Holly

Recipient: Arte Texas, Art in Public Places, Parks and Recreation Department & Austin Energy

Preservation Award for Preservation of a Cultural Landscape

Robert Herrera and Oscar Cortez

O. Henry Hall. Contributed by O’Connell Architecture

O.HENRY HALL – Downtown

Recipient: Texas State University System

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

Architect: Lawrence Group, O’Connell Architecture

Oakwood Chapel. Contributed by Preservation Austin


Recipient: City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department

Preservation Award for Restoration

Architect: Hatch + Ulland Owen Architects

RELATED: Austin dedicates sublime Oakwood Chapel.

Solarium. Contributed by Casey Woods Photography

SOLARIUM – Old West Austin

Recipient: Don Kerth

Preservation Award for Addition

Architect: Jobe Corral Architects

Sparks House. Contributed by Preservation Austin

SPARKS HOUSE – Judges Hill

Recipient: Suzanne and Terry Burgess

Preservation Award for Restoration

St. Edward’s University Main Building. Contributed by ArchiTexas


Recipient: St. Edwards University

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation and Restoration

Architect: Baldridge Architects, Architexas

RELATED: Sister Donna Jurick leaves St. Ed’s a better place.

Tucker-Winfield Apartments. Contributed by Preservation Austin


Recipient: Elayne Winfield Lansford

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

Architect: O’Connell Architecture

RELATED: New life for a 1939 gem.

Twin Houses. Contributed by Casey Woods Photography

TWIN HOUSES – Delwood 2

Recipient: Ada Corral and Camille Jobe

Preservation Award for Addition

Architect: Jobe Corral Architects

E.P. Wilmot House. Contributed by Preservation Austin

P. WILMOT HOUSE – Downtown

Recipient: John C. Horton III

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

Architect: Clayton & Little

Zilker Caretaker Cottage. Contributed City of Austin Parks & Recreation


Recipient: Austin Parks & Recreation Department

Preservation Award for Rehabilitation

RELATED: Life in the middle of Zilker Park.

Beta Xi House. Contributed by Preservation Austin


for Stewardship of the Beta Xi Kappa Kappa Gamma House

“My Park, My Pool, My City.” Contributed by Rae Fredericks, Forklift Dancworks


Special Recognition for “My Park, My Pool, My City”



Lifetime Achievement

RELATED: Where did the Chisholm Trail cross the Colorado?

Best parties as Austin social season kicks into gear

Austin’s social season picks up again next week after the icy blast of the Ice Ball and Texas 4000 Tribute Dinner and a few other late summer enticements.

RELATED: Catch the best parties of the new Austin social season.

Sept. 5: Red Shoe Luncheon for Ronald McDonald House. Brazos Hall. rmhc-ctx.org.

Sept. 6: An Evening of Discovery for UT LLILAS/Benson Latin American Collection. AT&T Center. Benson Collection.

Sept. 7: The Big Give for I Live Here, I Give Here. Hotel Van Zandt. ilivehereigivehere.org/the-big-give.

Sept. 9: Long Center Birthday Bash with Grupo Fantasma. Long Center. thelongcenter.org.



Flipside Austin parties before, during and after SXSW

SXSW muscles its way onto Austin’s social calendar in a couple of weeks, but you can wrestle down plenty of other options for parties before, during and after the main event.

Feb. 22: Junior League of Austin presents Austin Entertains. Fair Market.

Feb. 23: Wonders and Worries Unmasked. JW Marriott.

Feb. 28: Austin Music Awards. ACL Live.

March 1: Back on My Feet Austin Gala. JW Marriott.

March 2: Flashback for Explore Austin. The Parish.

March 3: 10th Anniversary Celebration with the Avett Brothers plus Asleep at the Wheel. Long Center.

March 7: League of Women Voters Austin State of the City Dinner. Doubletree by Hilton.

March 8: Texas Film Awards for Austin Film Society. AFS Cinema.

March 9-18: South by Southwest Festival. Various venues.

March 18: Nine Core Values Awards Luncheon for First Tee of Greater Austin. Hyatt Regency.

March 20: Nature Conservancy of Texas Austin Luncheon. JW Marriott.

March 24: Austin’s Fab Five Event for Seedling Foundation. Westin Domain.

Alternative Austin social options during ACL

The second week of  ACL Music Festival doesn’t stand in the way of these other scintillating Austin social offerings.

Oct. 11: Waller Creek Conservancy Dinner and Concert featuring Oh Wonder with Jaymes Young. Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater.

Oct. 11: 4 x 4 for Nobelity Project. Gibson Guitar Austin Showroom.

Oct. 12: Gateway Awards for American Gateways. AFS Cinema.

Oct. 12: Touch the Stars Gala for Imagine a Way.
Stephen F. Austin Hotel.

Oct. 14: Victor Emanuel Conservation Award Luncheon for Travis Audubon. Austin Country Club.

Oct. 14: 60th Anniversary Celebration of Montopolis Friendship Community Center. 403 Vargas Road.

Oct. 14: The Mask of Limits for ME3LJ Center. Hyatt Regency Austin Hotel.

Oct. 15: Butcher’s Ball for Urban Harvest and Foodways Austin. Rockin’ Star Ranch.

Oct. 15: Fashion and Art Palooza 3.0. Lucas Event Center.


Best parties as Austin’s social season gains momentum

Nobody said it would be socially quiet this time of year in Austin.

Sept. 21-24: “Belonging: Part 1” from Blue Lapis Light. Seaholm District Plaza.

Sept. 21-28: Tribeza Style Week. Stateside Theater and Fair Market.

Sept. 21: Hunger Heroes for Central Texas Food Bank. 6500 Metropolis Dr.

Sept. 21: Storm Large and Le Bonheur. UT McCullough Theatre.

Sept. 21: Dreams of the Old West for Dream Come True Foundation. 5211 Brodie Lane.

Sept. 21: Janet St. Paul Studio grand opening, “Vibrations Françaises.” 110 San Antonio St.

Sept. 22-23: Rhythm Runway Show and Jewel Ball for Women’s Symphony League. Various locations.

Sept. 22-24: Texas Tribune Festival. University of Texas campus.

Sept. 22: Fête and Fêt-ish for Ballet Austin. JW Marriott.

Sept. 22: Harvey Can’t Mess with Texas: A Beneift Concert for Hurricane Harvey Relief. Erwin Center.

Sept. 22: Imaginarium for the Thinkery. JW Marriott.

Sept. 22: Rescheduled Studio 54klift for Forklife Dancworks. 5540 N. Lamar Blvd.

Sept. 23: Burnet Road Block Party for Texas Folklife. 5434 Burnet Road.

Sept. 23. The Arc’s Art Celebration for Arc of the Capital Area. Hyatt Regency Austin.

Sept. 23: Quartet of Stars for Travis County Democratic Party. Westin Hotel at the Domain.

Sept. 23-24: Pecan Street Festival. East Sixth Street.




One last blast of Austin parties and shows for May

Wait! The spring social and arts seasons are not over. We blend together the last bast of events here.

May 8-10: Texas Women for the Arts from the Texas Cultural Trust. Various locations.


May 11: Due West for West Austin Studio Tour. Dougherty Arts Center.

May 11: 70th Birthday Bash for Barton Springs Bathhouse. Driskill Hotel.

May 12-14: Ballet Austin’s “Alice in Wonderland.” Long Center.

May 12: Reach for the Stars benefiting Ann Richard School. Four Seasons Hotel.

May 12-21: West Austin Studio Tour. Various Locations.


May 12-21: Fashion X Austin. Various locations.

May 13: Heart Ball for American Heart Association. JW Marriott.

May 13: Paramount Theatre Galas with Earth, Wind & Fire. Paramount Theatre.


May 13-14: Art of the Pot Studio Ceramics Tour and Sale. Various locations.

May 14: Real World Music Showcase for Anthropos Arts. Emo’s Austin.

May 15: Emancipet 18 Anniversary Luncheon. Four Seasons Hotel.


May 16: Great Futures Spring Luncheon. Hilton Austin.

May 18: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” transfers to Kleberg Stage. Zach Theatre.

May 19-20: Austin Symphony Masterworks with Gabriela Montero. Long Center.

May 20: Austin Humane Society Pup Crawl. Various locations.

May 20: Bats, Birds and Barbecue for EarthShare of Texas. Bracken Cave.


May 20-21: Chorus Austin presents “Southwest Voices.” Various locations.

May 20: 21 County Fair for Central Texas Food Bank. 6500 Metropolis Dr.


May 25: Beto & the Fairlanes: 40th Anniversary Celebration. Long Center.

May 30: Official Premiere Party for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9. Oilcan Harry’s.

May 30-June 4: “Something Rotten!” Bass Concert Hall.


Joining the revolt against the traditional Austin gala

Austin guests have been in open revolt against the traditional Austin gala for some time. They tell me that the standard black-tie affair is too long, too loud, too starchy and too gabby.

When one of Austin’s top social benefactors, Mary Herr Tally, starts storming the gala barricades, you know that change is in the air.

Mary Herr Tally with a designer pet collar made by Shanny Lott. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

She calls her upcoming benefit for no-kill shelter and service, Austin Pets Alive, a “non-gala,” a term already in usage, or a maybe “neo-gala,” which better fits her slimmed down, unbuttoned strategy.

RELATED: Breathing life into Austin’s No Kill wins.

Even the name of her April 7 event at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum, Tailwaggers  borrowed from Hollywood star Bette Davis‘ animal welfare outings in the 1940s — suggests something spontaneous, serendipitous.

“People ask: ‘How’s your gala?'” Tally reports. “Well, it’s not one. It’s casual cocktails and dinner. You take away all the tedious parts; do your key fundraising prior to the event; and avoid beating your guests down with a live auction or cash call.”

Tally is no stranger to the conventional gala. Since 1994, she has raised money for what used to be called the Austin Museum of ArtLong Center for the Performing Arts and Zach Theatre and Austin Opera as well as Seton Breast Care Center, Center for Child Protection and various animal welfare causes.

She felt Austin Pets Alive needed a signature event. She huddled with social masterminds such as Armando Zambrano and Carla McDonald to brainstorm for Tailwaggers.

A lightbulb moment came when McDonald proposed offering designer pet collars, auctioned silently. Tally was all in: “No painful live auction!”

She described how guests get distracted during the extended bidding of a live auction.

“People get up and walk out,” Tally says. “It’s embarrassing. It’s messed up. I mean, the live auctioneers have the best intentions …”

Cash calls — also known as “fund a cause” or, even more colloquially, “paddles up” — are no better if they last more than a few moments.

“Then you get your food. Finally,” Tally sighs. “We’re trying to redefine the gala that doesn’t have to be about a ball gown and and a tux. Austinites are sophisticated. They know what to wear to a good party.”

If forced to pin a name on the Tailwaggers sartorial style, she’d call it “Austin casual cocktail.”

“Just wear what you wear when you go out to dinner!” Tally says. “That could be jeans and a cute top, or it could be a dress. Austinites know how to dress, even if it has to be different at times to get some people out.”

Tally recently adopted a mixed breed dog from the Austin Animal Shelter that had been pulled from the Lockhart shelter’s euthanasia list.

“Annie Richards” was not what she expected to bring home.

“You think you know what you want,” she says. “Then you find the one.”

UPDATE: The origin of Annie Richards was clarified in a recent update.

Follow us to these top Austin parties and shows for March

Nobody is afraid of March anymore. Socially, anyone can play.

Of course, we’re not going to detail the multitude of South by Southwest and Rodeo Austin events here, but you don’t have to be reminded that these happy  social monsters eat up much of the month.

These bacchanalias exist outside the SXSW-Rodeo halo. (Still adding links.)



March 3-5: Bowl for Kids with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Highland Lanes.

March 4: Peace, Love, Long Center. Long Center.

March 4: Garden Party for the Vortex. The Butterfly Bar.

March 4-5: A Chamber Concert with Anton Nel from La Follia Austin Baroque. First Presbyterian Church.

Fran Lebowitz will be at the Long Center.

March 5: Andrea Ariel Dance Theatre House Concert Benefit. Private home.

March 7: Celebration of Life Luncheon for Breast Cancer Resource Center. JW Marriott.

March 8: Fran Lebowitz speaks. Long Center.


March 9: Texas Film Awards. Austin Studios, Stage 7.

March 10: Party to Protect the People. Hard Luck Lounge.

March 10: Preview Party: “Pride & Joy: The Texas Blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan.” Bullock Texas State History Museum.

March 10: “The Hero’s Journey Art Project” opens. Livestrong.

March 10: An Evening Concert with Miró Quartet and Invoke. Private home.

March 10: “Redux in Rep: Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” City Theatre.



March 11: Art on the Edge. Blanton Museum of Art.

March 12: “Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser” opens. Blanton Museum of Art.

March 12: Austin Music Awards. ACL Live.


March 12: Pink Martini in concert. Long Center.

March 15: “Ovo” from Cirque du Soleil opens. Cedar Park Center.

March 20: Nine Core Values Luncheon for First Tee of Austin. Hyatt Regency.

March 20: My Music RX Showcase. Yeti Flagship.


March 21: Scenic Day in Austin Social Gathering. Café Blue.

March 24: Starlight Social: A VIP Preview Party. Zilker Botanical Garden.

March 24-25: Austin Symphony’s Mahler’s Symphony No. 6. Long Center.

March 25: “This Land: An American Portrait” opening reception. Steven L. Clark Gallery.


March 16: “Fela! The Concert.” Long Center.

March 21: “Beautiful: The Carol King Musical” opens. Bass Concert Hall.

Marc 22-23: Aquila Theatre’s “The Trojan War: Our Warrior Chorus.” McCullough Theatre.

March 26: Golden Hornet Young Composer Concert. The North Door.

March 29: Nature Conservancy Lunchon. JW Marriott.

March 31: Cocktails for the Colorado. Brazos Hall.

March 31: Ballet Austin’s “The Magic Flute” opens. Long Center.

UPDATE: The wrong date was given for the Barton Springs Bathhouse party at the Driskill. It will be in May.


Top Austin party picks for the New Year

Winter is upon is. The character of Austin socializing changes with the season. We share our top party picks for the next two chilly months.


Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Party + “A Christmas Carol” + Fireworks. Zach Theatre.

Dec. 31: Blu Year’s Eve in Celebration of F1. 213 W. Fifth St.

Dec. 31: Feathers and Fedoras: Epic New Year’s Event Event. The Belmont.

Jan. 26: Doty Award Dinner for UT College of Fine Arts. AT&T Center.


Jan 28: Dell Children’s Believe Gala. Austin Convention Center.

Jan. 28: Human Rights Campaign Gala. JW Marriott.

Feb. 4. CASAblanca for CASA of Travis County. JW Marriott.

Feb. 4: Rodeo Austin Gala with Randy Houser. Palmer Events Center.

Feb. 8: Feel the Love for Austin Music Foundation. Emo’s.

Feb. 11: Blanton Gala + Reinstalled Permanent Collection. Blanton Museum of Art.


Feb. 12: Feed the Peace Awards with Jerry Jeff Walker and Gilbert Tuhabonye for Nobelity Project. Four Seasons Austin.

Feb. 21-22: Texas Medal of the Arts. Bass Concert Hall.


Firing off bottle rockets for 5 fall Austin parties

More than 30 top parties still to go this fall Austin season — no exaggeration — but we take them one at a time.

Texas wins on a lovely fall day. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Let’s pause for a moment first to salute the Longhorns’ win over the Bears last Saturday. Not as big a deal as the Chicago Cubs breaking a 108-year-old curse, for sure, but fun to watch in person, and a good sign for Austin.

Heather Bendes and Georgia Fontana at Girls Empowerment Network 20th Birthday Party at W Austin Hotel. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Girls Empowerment Network of Austin 20th Birthday Party. Originally, it was called the Ophelia Project, inspired by Mary Pipher’s “Saving Ophelia,” a 1994 book about the social pressures on American adolescent girls. The Girls Empowerment Network now tackles body image, peer relationships and juvenile justice, as well as mental and physical health for girls. The cocktail party at the W Hotel Austin featured some of the city’s most empowered women, including Austin first lady Diane Land. Board chairwoman Heather Bendes outlined for me all the group’s activities, but I could still learn much more. Note on the clever event timing: Many hosts try to beat the traffic with a rush hour reception, but they don’t start early enough. At 5:30 p.m., this one was not hard to make while 6 p.m. seems to be cursed.

Helen and Ed Ingram at Pease Park Conservancy Fall Party. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Pease Park Conservancy Fall Party. Never underestimate the power of a well-produced video for a nonprofit. The Pease Park Conservancy was blessed with cooler weather this year for its fall fundraiser at Allan House, the mansion just northwest of the Travis County Courthouse, which makes an unpredictable events venue. In this group’s case, the choice was emboldened by its perch above the nearly forgotten Little Shoal Creek Canyon. I spoke with numerous engaging citizens, including District 9 Austin City Council Member Kathie Tovo and District 10 candidate Alison Alter.  (Someday, I’ll learn the new districts by heart.) Back to that video: It features some swell drone shots of the city’s first park, but also some testimony from people we really respect, such as architect Emily Little, activist Richard Craig and civic leader Tom Spencer.

Joyce Blaxingame has manned this gate at Royal-Memorial Stadium for longer than she can remember. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Longhorns 35, Bears 34. For more than 30 years, I’ve tried to make at least one University of Texas Longhorns football game every season at Royal-Memorial Stadium. The rest of match-ups, I watch on TV. Still, there’s no beating the pageantry and potency of 100,000 fans and all that action. I’ve watched from luxury boxes, from student bleachers, from high up on the west side, to down on the sidelines. I’ve rarely had more fun than hanging out recently with Kristy Ozmun, who reps for the Longhorn Network, and her husband, American-Statesman reporter Ben Wear. They know the stadium like the backs of their hands. And Wear, a part-time official, knows the game backwards and forwards. When we sat down, it was in a tiny, semi-tented area overlooking the network’s commentators, who included this game superstars Vince Young and Ricky Williams. But we also spent time blithely on the field and there met Joyce Blaxingame, who has manned the same gate for decades. We want her stories.

Sparky Pocket Park won a Merit Award from Preservation Austin.

Merit Awards for Preservation Austin. There are few more closely scrutinized local honors than the Merit Awards for Preservation Austin. And properly so. There so many ways that Austinites are saving their built heritage and only a few prizes to go around each year. Usually, at this Driskill Hotel ceremony and luncheon, I scribble notes about future articles based on the winners. This time, I was gratified that I had already written, if sometimes briefly, about advocates Jill and Stephen Wilkinson, the Save Muny campaign, the city’s Cemetery Master Plan and the Neill-Cochran House Museum. More of that reporting to come. The gentleman sitting next to me made a salient point: The guests are here for the awards and the conversation. Why have a speaker? After all, they say the same worthy things every year: Demolition bad, preservation good.

Bethany Andrée on the last day of Snack Bar. Michael Barnes/American-Statesman

Snack Bar Last Hurrah. We were among the first customers seven years ago. We were among the last on Oct. 30, as Snack Bar closed with a big blast. Bethany Andrée’s team was all about hospitality. Sure, the fare was healthy, affordable and sometimes innovative, but it was a just great, open place just to hang out, or to interview somebody for the newspaper. Sure, it was right down the hill from our house, which made it particularly convenient. But to tell the truth, there are more than 50 eateries within easy walking distance of our house, and more than 10 made Matthew Odam’s Top 100 restaurants list recently. I’m sure something rewarding will take Snack Bar’s place under Liz Lambert’s expansive leadership. (A reader suggested that that stretch of South Congress be nicknamed “SoLiz.”) Still, I’ll miss the welcome that waited for me every time I stopped by to snack and more.

*Editor’s note: This story previously referenced Georgia Fontana as the Girls Empowerment Network’s chairwoman.