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One of Austin's oldest, Bouldin Creek neighborhood dates to the turn of the century, with most of its growth occurring in the 1920s and 1930s. It was home to one of Austin's most famous voices, the late speaker, writer, and first amendment rights activist John Henry Faulk. His boyhood residence, the landmark 1894 Victorian mansion of Dr. E.W. Herndon, is now occupied by Green Pastures Restaurant on W. Live Oak St.
Before post-war damming and flood control, real estate south of the river was cheap. This was partially due to frequent Colorado River flooding, which often left residents and businesses stranded from downtown. As a result, many black families made their homes in the Bouldin neighborhood. Today, this early ethnic diversity is visible at the 1916 St. Anne African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1711 Newton Street, and the nearby Goodwill Baptist Church, 1700 Newton.
In the 1940s a small Hispanic settlement began to blossom, following the establishment of the San Juan Catholic Church at the corner of West Mary and South Third streets. The stone mission-style church still stands.
The neighborhood's largest institutional resident is the Texas School for the Deaf. Established in 1856, the school's 65-acre campus stretches between South Congress and South First Street and from Barton Springs Road to Elizabeth Street. The original school building was demolished in 1956. An ambitious expansion and renovation program began at the school in 1992 and continues today.
There is very little information available through local sources regarding James Bouldin (I), although it is known that he was born in Henry County, Virginia in 1796. The Colonel married Malinda Saunders in 1825, also born in Virginia, and they had five children: James E. (II), Mary V., Constance, Ann Elizabeth and David W. The family moved to Missouri in 1832, and then came to Austin about twenty years later. At least, James (II) and Ann Elizabeth stayed behind in Missouri. Upon arriving in Austin in the early 1850s, Colonel Bouldin began to acquire a considerable amount of property, most of which was originally part of the Isaac Decker League in South Austin. Eventually he owned property from the river south to almost William Cannon Drive. The Bouldins had a large plantation; many African-Americans who worked on this and other nearby plantations continued to live in the area after emancipation, establishing churches and their own viable community.
Bouldin Subdivision and Home
After the Colonel died in 1876, David W., the only son remaining in Austin, managed the Bouldin estate. Local records indicate that David W. lived in a large residence on family land (at an unknown date) at a site that is now occupied by Becker Elementary School (corner of W. Milton and Bouldin Avenue). David W. died in the early 1890s (probably 1893), and the Bouldin descendants then began subdividing and selling off family lands. The family subdivided Bouldin Addition, roughly bound by what is now East Bouldin Creek on the east, the UP railroad tracks on the west, West Elizabeth on the north, and West Live Oak Street to the south in 1894. The family homestead was located in the middle of the subdivision on land now occupied by Becker Elementary School. Also subdivided by the Bouldin Family in 1894 was South Heights, comprising largely what is now the Gibson Street area.
House at 1312 W. 10th Street (Moved to 615 W. Mary in 1998)
County deed, tax and occupancy records all indicate that the house at 1312 West 10th Street was built by the Bouldin family as a residence for Arthur Bouldin Terrell, grandson of Col. James Edward Bouldin. The family apparently built a house for Arthur Bouldin Terrell, grandson of Colonel James Bouldin, at what is now 1312 South First Street, c.1894. Arthur was the youngest of five children born to Ann Elizabeth Bouldin (born 1828; died in Austin in 1860) and Alexander Watkins Terrell (born 1827), a prominent district judge (1857-1863) and state senator (1876-1884), representative of the U.S. house of representative (1891 1892; and 1903-1905) who also served as minister to Turkey under President Grover Cleveland (1893-1897). Arthur Bouldin Terrell and his wife Mary sold the house and associated .52 acres of property to Winston D. Miller in November of 1895 (perhaps because he married). In the deed conveying the property to Mr. Miller, Arthur states that he and his wife were occupying this land as a homestead. In 1895, the county valued the .52-acre property at $500 and assessed taxes from Arthur for the property as well as for two horses and a carriage. Arthur and his wife apparently moved to town after the house and associated property was sold. No mechanic’s lien was found to document the construction of the house, although the deed, tax and occupancy records all indicate that Arthur Bouldin Terrell was living at this address.
In 1896, the Bouldin family sold the land immediately west and north of the .52 acre tract to Southern Building and Loan Association who then subdivided the property into South Heights Addition. The .52 acre tract changed hands numerous times from 1911 to 1924. The house at 1310 was built c. 1909. The small board-and-batten, modified L-plan cottage has served as a rental house for most of its existence.
The house at 1312 South First Street remains as one of the oldest (and perhaps the oldest) surviving house located on lands owned and sub-divided by the Bouldin family. Numerous L-plan cottages were built in the early 1900s in the Bouldin and South Heights Addition, but most of these have been heavily modified. The house at 1312 South First Street, with its original wood-frame windows and wood siding, remains as one of the most intact, historic L-plan houses surviving in the immediate South First Street area.
The house at 1312 South First Street is also the only known house surviving in Austin directly associated with James Bouldin or his immediate family. The large Bouldin family home, which was located at the present site of Becker Elementary School, has been gone for at least seventy years.
While the site at 1312 South First Street has changed over the years, the house survives as a significant artifact from late 19th century life in the Bouldin Creek area.
South First Street -- Grocery Stores
South First Street has historically served as a major north to south corridor, accommodating traffic to South Heights Addition, Bouldin Addition, the State School for the Deaf and other communities to the south of Austin. During the 1920s through 1950s, numerous retail services – such as grocery stores – operated on South First Street and were interspersed between residential uses. City directories indicate that there were a dozen or more family-operated grocery stores on South First Street in the 1920s and 1930s. After World War II, however, the consolidated grocery store drove most of the smaller family groceries out of business.
By 1928, Edgar L. Blum and his wife Mattie were living at 1312 South First Street and running a grocery store out of an adjacent commercial building (now demolished) located just south of the house at 1314 South First Street (sitting on the corner of West Elizabeth and South First Street facing onto South First Street). In 1930, the Blum’s purchased the .52-acre tract of property. They continued to occupy the house at 1312 S. First Street. Edgar L. Blum worked as a barber downtown for many years while Mattie operated the store. The Blum’s raised two children in the house: Dorothy and William.
Neighborhood's Brackenridge area included South Austin's first Black-owned businesses. The portion of today's Bouldin Creek neighborhood between South Congress Avenue and South First Street, from the Texas School for the Deaf to Oltorf Street was known as the Brackenridge neighborhood, named for the elementary school of the same name, which has since been razed.
Census data suggests that this area was primarily a black neighborhood up until about the 1940's. The 1900, 1910 and 1920 Census shows an almost 100 percent black make-up with black seamstresses, laborers, masons, and business people living in Brackenridge. Several black churches still stand in the area and have loyal followings.
The building now housing the Herb Bar, 200 West Mary Street at Eva, was built by Mr. Robert S. Stanley and served as a general store from the turn of the century until the 1930's. Stanley's second wife, Jennie, ran the store. The Stanleys were one of the first African American families to have their own small business in South Austin.
Robert Stanley built the Historic Stone Stanley House at 1811 Newton Street at West Mary in 1895 with help from his brothers. It is one of the few homes in South Austin with a basement. The house was heated with four potbelly stoves and had no electricity until the 1920's. The Stanelys raised many children, stepchildren and grandchildren here.
[This history is from City of Austin Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Plan]
Link to the Bouldin Creek Neighborhood Association
Personally, I have lived here since about 1987 - first on South 6th, then on South 5th and, for the last 21 years, on South 3rd Street.