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BREMOND BLOCK HISTORIC DISTRICT

Hale Houston House
Photograph, Hale Houston house, Bremond Block Historic District, Austin, Texas. Image courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission and provided to The Portal to Texas History. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
The B.J. Smith House
Photograph, B.J. Smith house, Bremond Block Historic District, Austin, Texas. Image courtesy of The University of Texas at Austin Libraries and the Texas Architecture: A Visual Story collection. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

BREMOND BLOCK HISTORIC DISTRICT. The Bremond Block, a National Register historic district in Austin, is one of the few remaining upper-class Victorian neighborhoods of the middle to late nineteenth century in Texas. The individual homes have been preserved intact in almost unaltered form. Large live oaks and lush planting frame these residences at the edge of a bluff a short walk from Congress Avenue. Six of these houses were built or expanded for members of the families of brothers Eugene and John Bremond, who were prominent in late-nineteenth-century Austin social, merchandising, and banking circles. They are located within the square block bordered by West Seventh, West Eighth, Guadalupe, and San Antonio streets. The district also includes several houses on the west side of San Antonio and the south side of West Seventh, at least three of which were built or altered by the North family.

Catherine Robinson House
Photograph, Catherine Robinson house, Bremond Block Historic District, Austin, Texas. Image courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission provided to The Portal to Texas History. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

The two earliest houses are on Guadalupe. The Hale Houston house was built before 1860 and later was the home of the son-in-law of John Bremond, Jr. The B. J. Smith house at 610 Guadalupe dates from the 1850s. Both houses are nicely proportioned, one-story Texas examples of the Greek Revival style with full-width front porches. Both have later additions to the rear. The Walter Bremond house, on the corner of San Antonio and West Eighth, was originally a one-story limestone building but was given a 1½-story addition in 1887 with a wide second-story balcony and a crested mansard roof in the Second Empire style. Its next-door neighbor, the Catherine Robinson house, was owned by Eugene Bremond's sister, Pauline Bremond Robinson, then by her daughter Catherine. It was begun before 1860 and enlarged sometime between 1870 and 1890 by the addition of a Classical Revival two-story front gallery.

Eugene Bremond House
Photograph, Eugene Bremond house, Bremond Block Historic District, Austin, Texas, 1961. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Across San Antonio Street from these is the large North-Evans Château, built originally in 1874 of limestone rubble, with a simple two-story porch. In 1894 architect Alfred Giles remodeled and expanded it into a late Victorian castle, with crenellation, Romanesque arcades in many galleries, a tower, and high terraces with huge buttressed retaining walls. The building has been the meeting place of the Austin Woman's Club for a number of years. At the south corner of the same street, the Eugene Bremond house (enlarged in 1877) is a large, rambling, one-story Victorian frame residence. Its porches have scroll saw brackets, paired slender columns, and bracketed eaves. Across the street on the opposite corner and on the bluff at 700 San Antonio is an 1877 apartment building of stuccoed rubble with a two-story porch and several additional stories behind and below on the steep bluff.

John Bremond House
Photograph, John Bremond house, Bremond Block Historic District, Austin, Texas. Image courtesy of the Texas Historical Commission provided to The Portal to Texas History. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

Two other two-story houses, on West Seventh, complete the Bremond Block's significant buildings. Though both are of the local tan brick, they are of quite different character. The Pierre Bremond house (1898) in the center of the block, the last of the series to be built, is subdued late Victorian with a low-pitched hip roof, a double gallery, and an unobtrusive tower on the west side. The 1886 Second Empire style John Bremond house on the corner of Seventh and Guadalupe is the most outstanding of all of the buildings and has been pictured in textbooks as a graceful and exuberant example of Texas Victorian architecture. Its crested mansard roof has elaborate dormers, polychrome slate shingles, and concave bracketed curves on the front gable. The cast-iron work on the wrap-around gallery is outstanding. This house and several of the others were built by George Fiegel. All the buildings within the Bremond Block are beautifully maintained.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Drury Blakeley Alexander and (photographs) Todd Webb, Texas Homes of the Nineteenth Century (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966). Building Files, Austin History Center. James Wright Steely, comp., A Catalog of Texas Properties in the National Register of Historic Places (Austin: Texas Historical Commission, 1984).

Roxanne Williamson

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Roxanne Williamson, "Bremond Block Historic District," accessed July 26, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ghb02.

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on July 20, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.