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Award | Preservation Austin

 

MRA’s renovation and addition to the Five Yard House in Old West Austin has received a Preservation Merit Award! Established in 1960, Preservation Austin’s annual Preservation Merit Awards program honors visionary approaches to preserving our city’s unique architectural, cultural, and environmental heritage. Check out all this year’s winners here.

 Located in Old West Austin, the Five Yard House is one in a series of century-old bungalows. When the owners, a retired couple, bought the house to be closer to downtown and a walkable neighborhood, the home was crumbling, crooked, and abandoned. The careful restoration of the old house—including replacing its decaying log-pile foundation—preserves the scale and appearance of the surrounding neighborhood.

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The restoration, which took three years, included the major challenge of replacing the decaying log-pile foundation with 40 new concrete piers while maintaining the integrity of the overall structure. The original hardwood floors and architectural millwork were restored, and the original shiplap was left exposed as accents. The single-pane windows facing the street, which feature delicate wood tracery, were refurbished. The plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems were overhauled to meet code. The original bedrooms were used as guest quarters, while the living areas were converted to an office and media room.

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The gallery connecting the original rooms leads to a special moment: a connector “bridge” that serves as an extended threshold, transitioning from old to new. Beyond the bridge, a U-shaped addition embraces a central courtyard, taking advantage of the deep site and opening up to the landscape with floor-to-ceiling glazing that contrasts the punched windows of the bungalow.

The home’s name reflects the concept of connecting the interiors to a series of unique outdoor spaces. Accessible from the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom, the courtyard features ample seating and a bubbling fountain. From inside, the space feels like part of the house. Taking advantage of its northern exposure, a high-ceilinged studio with reclaimed long-leaf pine floors opens onto an organic rock garden. Meanwhile, the master bedroom opens onto a more formal, protected yard with an outdoor shower.