Having spent some time now on the south end of HPWBA (Colorado Foothills and Balcones Park), I wanted to head back north and talk about one of the earliest resident families in the area: Addie Lucas and her daughters Georgia and Dorothy. Georgia would go on to create the Bright Leaf Preserve which is a significant feature of our neighborhood. Here is some background…
George B. Lucas was originally from South Carolina, descended from a wealthy English family in Charleston. Addie Lucas, originally from Alabama, was the daughter of Reverend E. G. Hocutt, a pioneer Methodist minister. George and Addie lived in a 14-room home on Academy Dr. George died in the 1930’s and left Addie and their daughters Georgia and Dorothy a substantial estate of land in West Texas, including 10 farms and 3,000 acres of land north of Amarillo. In the early 1940’s, Addie and Georgia moved to the Driskill Hotel, though they kept the home on Academy.
Georgia was studying at UT in the journalism program but shifted gears to the world of business and managing the estate. Later, when oil was discovered on the family’s West Texas land, she would go back to school to study geology.
But Georgia was also an accomplished poet. She released her first book of poems in 1946, entitled “Prelude”. And her philanthropy focused on this passion, as she was a member of the Poetry Society of Texas, a founding member of the Poetry Society of Austin and a generous supporter of the Texas Fine Arts Association.
Addie and Georgia’s initial connection to the neighborhood was their construction of the first home in Balcones Park, at 4400 Crestway. This was their “country home”, constructed in 1947, and which they called “Bright Leaf”. It was a retreat from the city, enjoying views of both the lake and the city. Georgia recalled that “[d]uring Christmas we played Christmas Carols… it was so pretty… the music just floated down on the water and across the lake.”
Lucas Home at Bright Leaf, Porterfield, Elizabeth. 2018
Georgia would go on to make 34 separate land transactions to piece together a total of 216 contiguous acres of land to create Bright Leaf Preserve. This area of Austin was so special to Georgia and had such sentimental value, and she had the means to do it, so she created the Preserve in order for future generations to encounter and experience the raw and natural beauty of the land here. She then created a foundation in order to support the management of the preserve and make it accessible to others that would appreciate it.