Community leaders gathered today to commemorate restoration of the historic Herman Schieffer House in East Austin -- a piece of Austin’s African American history.
District 1 Council Member Ora Houston and City Manager Marc Ott also commended the Austin Revitalization Authority for 20 years of service in the community.
Built around 1895, the Schieffer House’s rich history includes serving as the Travis County Negro Agricultural Extension Service and as a gathering place for “movers and shakers” in African American politics in the 1960s.
This was one of the first projects the City of Austin invested in with the Austin Revitalization Authority (ARA) by securing $9 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, supporting the East 11th and 12th Street Revitalization efforts.
Tenants in the historic house, 1154 Lydia St., Austin, announced today include the Austin Revitalization Authority and medical professionals.
"There are many things to come for East Austin," said City Manager Marc A. Ott. "It is time; the time is now."
A Rich History: La Petite & More
Below is a look at history provided by the ARA:
The Austin Revitalization Authority continues to honor East Austin’s rich history by completing restoration of the Schieffer House. The ARA is celebrating 20 years of revitalization in East Austin, and that journey began with the purchase of the Schieffer house. Additionally, this project has been made possible in part through funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the City of Austin, which contributed funds for acquisition and phase I activities as part of the East 11th and 12th Street Revitalization efforts.
Built around 1895 by Herman and Annie Schieffer, the Schieffer House at 1154 Lydia Street was their home for more than 50 years. The Schieffer Family, who built a number of other houses nearby, became prominent members of the community. The grocery and meat market they owned and operated on an adjacent lot served the surrounding neighborhoods through two World Wars and the Great Depression.
After Herman (April 13, 1863 – January 3, 1946) and Annie (November 2, 1876 to March 14, 1950) had reached their final resting place at Oakwood Cemetery, their East Austin home served as the office of the Travis County Negro Agricultural Extension Service. Providing information on everything from crop cultivation and livestock production to home repairs, the agency was a vital information link for African Americans.
In the 1960s, the Schieffer House became a restaurant and club called La Petite. A gathering place for “movers and shakers” in African American politics, La Petite was at the center of many political campaigns.
As the fortunes of the neighborhood declined, so did those of Herman and Annie Schieffer’s beloved home at 1154 Lydia Street. Now known as the East Room, it was used as an “after hours club.” The Austin Revitalization Authority purchased the property in 1997, and with the support of the surrounding neighborhoods, shut down the club.
The Schieffer House has been completely restored and a two-story modern addition added at the rear of the property. This restoration project is located in a highly sought after area near new and exciting restaurants, minutes from the new medical complex, condominium and apartment projects.
The Herman Schieffer House is part of the fabric of the community, a piece of the culture and history of many who have been in East Austin for years and generations. We are excited to be able to preserve the house and create the opportunity for new chapters of history to be woven for generations to come. This is the best of Central East Austin!