Highland Park West / Balcones Area Neighborhood History Article: The Beverly Hills Subdivision

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Highland Park West / Balcones Area Neighborhood History Article: The Beverly Hills Subdivision

The Beverly Hills Subdivision was developed in two sections by builder S. R. Sheppard, a successful Austin builder.  Described in advertising as “Beautiful Beverly Hills: Austin’s Exclusive Hilltop Subdivision Where Every Lot Provides A Scenic View”, Section 1 was given final approval by the Austin City Council in February, 1953 (34 lots)[1], and Section 2 was approved in September, 1955 for 70 lots on 26.6 acres.[2]  About half of the development occurred between 1955-1960, and then the remaining properties were built out after 1965. 

Sheron Rowe (S. R.) Sheppard was from Austin.  He graduated from Austin High School in 1933 and later received his BA from The University of Texas at Austin in 1938.  He worked in a variety of businesses, including in sales at the E. L. Steck Company, where he met Dorris Bourland.  They would marry in 1940 and remained married for 47 years until his death.  A 1942 article referenced his employment as chief of the expediting department with Brown Shipbuilding in Houston, TX[3], but he shifted into home building and developing in Austin in 1946 and by the mid-1950’s had constructed over 250 Austin residences.[4]  He also helped found the Austin Homebuilder’s Association in 1950 and served as its President in 1955.

Also in the area, Sheppard would build a spec home in 1954 at 5006 Highland Court in his development Highland Park Court subdivision, just south of Hancock and west of the train tracks.  The home was designed by H. D. Powers and reflected the findings of a nationwide survey to find out what consumers were looking for in a home.  “Sheppard said the results of this exhaustive study confirmed the popularity of the ranch-type home over traditional colonial and Cape Cod styles.  It also disclosed marked preference for expandable houses, picture windows, open planning which combines the functions of two or more rooms in a single area, forced warm air heating, three bedrooms and facilities for outdoor living.”[5]

Around the same time, he would build another spec home at 5603 Caprice Dr in Highland Park West that was featured in the 1954 Parade of Homes.  The three-bedroom home offered “air-conditioned comfort at low cost, scenic beauty with the sweep of the western hills brought into the living room, and arrangement of living areas so as to get the most effect from floor space.”[6]

Sheppard was also President of the Builders Development Corporation, a group of eight Austin home builders that purchased the Rabb Tract, a 535 acre piece of land which was then developed into Barton Hills, at the time the largest home building venture in Austin’s history[7] and what one article called “[t]he largest air conditioning project in the world-embracing at least 1,152 dwellings”.[8]

[1] 3 Subdivisions Win Approval Of City Commission, The Austin American (1914-1973); Austin, Tex. [Austin, Tex]. 15 Feb 1953: A2
[2] Beverly Hills Plat Approved, The Austin Statesman (1921-1973); Austin, Tex. [Austin, Tex]. 27 Sep 1955: 1
[3] Houston Visitors, The Austin American (1914-1973); Austin, Tex. [Austin, Tex]. 18 Apr 1943: A3
[4] S. R. Sheppard Offers ‘Vista Caprice’, The Austin American (1914-1973); Nov 7, 1954; pg. C4
[5] Coleman Trend Home Made for Homemakers, The Austin American (1914-1973); Sep 12, 1954; pg. C13
[6] S. R. Sheppard Offers ‘Vista Caprice’, The Austin American (1914-1973); Nov 7, 1954; pg. C4
[7] City Fears Project May Endanger Pool, The Austin Statesman (1921-1973); Feb 10, 1955; pg. A1
[8] Barton Has Top Project In Cooling, The Austin American (1914-1973); May 13, 1956; pg. D11
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