City of Austin, TX

02/13/2020 | Press release | Archived content

Fannie Davis Gazebo Listed in the National Register of Historic Places

The Fannie Davis Gazebo at Vic Mathias Shores at Town Lake Metro Park was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Noted for its historical and architectural significance, the Fannie Davis Gazebo joins other properties under the stewardship of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) system with National Register status.

The 1969 Town Lake Gazebo was the first public structure built in the effort to beautify the south shore of what was then known as Town Lake. The Austin Chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), established in the 1950s for women working in the construction industry, spearheaded and raised funds for the project. Thirty-five visionary women in Austin saw the possibility of putting something on the shores for all to enjoy and dedicated it to the construction industry. Inspired by Lady Bird Johnson, a national leader in environmental beautification and later the honorary co-chair of the Town Lake Beautification Committee, the Austin chapter began planning and raising money for the structure in 1965. Almost 100 contractors and suppliers enthusiastically supported the gazebo project with donations of materials and labor. The gazebo was dedicated in June 1970, and then in 1984, the structure was named for Fannie Davis, a founding member of the Austin chapter of NAWIC.

'The Fannie Davis Gazebo was one of the first structures on Austin's hike and bike trail, and the Austin Chapter of Women in Construction not only built it, but have been the champions for upkeep and restorations since 1970. We are proud to have this history recorded and recognized,' said Kim McKnight, Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism Program Manager for PARD.

The gazebo was designed by architect, J. Sterry Nill, to resemble an inverted morning glory flower. The design reflects diverse architectural trends of the 1960s, and playfully references Frank Lloyd Wright's geometric experimentation and combination of organic materials with modern forms and the rustic park architecture found in Central Texas.

'The gazebo is one of Austin's modern architectural gems, hidden in plain sight,' said Gregory W. Smith, National Register Coordinator with the Texas Historical Commission. 'The National Register listing will help increase public awareness about this remarkable structure and the role of the Women in Construction organization in the early efforts to beautify the shores of Lady Bird Lake.'

Photo from the Austin History Center, PICA 09283.

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About the National Register of Historic Places

The National Register of Historic Places is the nation's official list of cultural resources deemed worthy of preservation. Authorized under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Register is part of a federal program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect the country's historic and archaeological resources. The National Register includes more than 3,300 listings in Texas. Listing affords properties a measure of protection from the possible impact of federally funded projects, as well as access to technical expertise and grant funds to facilitate their restoration and preservation. Income-producing properties are also eligible for federal tax benefits for sympathetic rehabilitation work.