Highland Park West / Balcones Area Neighborhood History Article: Balcones Park Development

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Highland Park West / Balcones Area Neighborhood History Article: Balcones Park Development

Last month I talked about the developer of Balcones Park: David Barrow.  This month I’ll describe the development of Balcones Park in more detail.  Balcones Park was developed in sections from 1951 to 1961.  The first section was approved in August 1951 and would provide roughly 42 residences on about 20 acres of land.[1]  By the time it was all built out, Balcones Park included over 330 homes.  You can see the map on my blog at treymcwhorter.com.

I previously wrote about the Edgemont Mansion, which figures prominently in the history of Balcones Park.  It was L. T. Barrow, David Barrow’s brother, who had purchased the Edgemont Mansion and intended to restore it and make it his personal residence.  But the home mysteriously burned on February 28, 1956 and consequently plans changed.  The land was subdivided and developed as “Balcones Park Edgemont” and “Balcones Park Edgemont Sec 2”.  These include the streets of Cascadera, Eastledge and Westledge, and Edgemont Dr west of Balcones Dr.

The terrain of Balcones Park was challenging for a large development.  At the time, few local builders had experience building homes on sloped land and preferred flat lots.  The Barrows were undeterred and approached the development of Balcones Park with the same high standards and process that had served them so well up to that point.  Mr. Barrow was very careful to not allow a builder to purchase all of the lots in a section, in part to ensure that there was variety to the home designs.

As with Highland Park West, efforts were made to generate interest in the area and quality of the new homes being constructed.  For example, the “Idea Home of the Year”, a model home featured in Better Homes and Gardens in September 1955, was built at 4618 Madrona[2] by Nash Philips Copus.  The home highlighted new construction techniques, materials and hardware, as well as appliances from GE.

The Austin American (1914-1973); Austin, Tex. [Austin, Tex]. 03 Feb 1952: A25

The Barrows were also residents of the neighborhood.  Mr. Barrow commissioned the new Dean of the University of Texas School of Architecture, Harwell Hamilton Harris, to build for him a home on Edgemont Dr, where he lived from 1956 until his death in 1980.  Mr. Barrow’s son, David Barrow, Jr., was a member of the team that designed and built the residence at 4101 Edgemont.  That home had similarities to the “Pacesetter” home designed by Harris, Barrow, Jr. and several other architectural students at UT for the 1954 State Fair.[3]

[1] Balcones Park Plat Okehed by County, The Austin American (1914-1973); Aug 12, 1951; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Austin American Statesman, pg. A15
[2] Local Construction Firm Will Build ‘Idea’ Home, The Austin American (1914-1973); Austin, Tex. [Austin, Tex]. 14 Aug 1955: B17.
[3] UT Architects Will Design State Fair Pacesetter Home, The Austin American (1914-1973); Austin, Tex. [Austin, Tex]. 02 May 1954: B12


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