Swede Hill neighborhood is a
residential area of downtown Austin, Texas, that was once a
former Swedish enclave.
this area began in the 1870s when a large number of Swedish immigrants
erected homes near their downtown businesses.
The first to build his home
there was S. A. Lundell; soon thereafter Carl John Swahn built his house
there, and many others followed. Eventually some sixty-seven Swedish
immigrant families built homes in the vicinity
and the neighborhood became known as Svenska Kullen (Swedish Hill)—originally
bounded by Waller Street on the east, Red River Street on the west, 15th
Street on the south, and 19th Street on the north
(today Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard)—known
more familiarly as Swede Hill.
Original owners and residents
included carpenters, steamship ticket agents, book dealers, custodians,
landscapers, as well as many others. The first Swedish Methodist church in
Texas was organized in Austin, and shortly afterward its congregation built
a church at 15th and Red River streets in Swede Hill. Other Swedish
churches were established near the area, and soon Texas Wesleyan College
(founded by Swedish Methodists) was established in the vicinity at 26th and
Red River streets, just north of the
present-day University of Texas.
Over time, urban
development—most notably the construction of IH-35 and the Frank Erwin
Center—shrunk the size of the community dramatically.
By the 1980s only the portion of
Swede Hill east of IH-35 remained intact as a neighborhood.
In 1986, a portion of what remained of the neighborhood was designated and
added to the National Register of Historic Places. By the late 1980s two
houses in Swede Hill—Blomquist and Anderson
been designated by the City of Austin as historic structures.
Today, the Swede Hill
neighborhood boundaries have expanded to 12th Street on the south, and to
Comal Street on the east. Architecture within the neighborhood
ranges from original historic structures to newer contemporary designs, and
the community is comprised of an eclectic mix of families, professionals,
students, and urban dwellers.
Swedish Hill Historic District
National Register of Historic Places [#86001008]
Excerpts from the 1986 Nomination...
Hill Historic District consists of a small neighborhood of houses which
fronts on the 900 block and a portion of the 1000 block of East 14th Street
and on the 900 block of East 15th Street. Olander Street forms the western
boundary of the District, and Waller Street cuts through it on the east... selected on the basis of
the intactness and cohesiveness of the residential structures.
The Swedish Hill Historic District, situated in the northwestern part of
historic East Austin along East 14th and 15th, Olander, and Waller streets,
is comprised of 12 residential buildings, 9 of which contribute to the
District and 2 of which do not. Approximately 50% of the buildings are owner
occupied; without exception, the structures are well maintained and in a
remarkable state of preservation. The houses were constructed between ca.
1880 and ca. 1938; there are representatives in the district of construction
during every decade during that 58-year span and of most of the
architectural styles present in East Austin as a whole. The structures
demonstrate a consistence of setback, landscape, scale, and materials, and a
craftsmanship and state of preservation which is unusual in the area.
styles which are represented in the District are vernacular versions of the
Victorian L plan, T plan, Cumberland plan, late Victorian corner-porch plan,
Pyramidal plan, and Bungalow plan. All of the buildings are finely detailed;
many display pleasing carpentry ornamentation in the forms of porch columns,
balusters, railings, brackets, spindles, and a variety of siding and
Located on lots in the Original City of Austin and subdivided
and developed earlier than most other parts of East Austin, Swedish Hill was
a residential neighborhood occupied by downtown business people and
tradesmen. Its significance derives not only from the broad range of
architectural styles which is represented in the District, but also from the
fact that each building is an excellent example of its own particular style.
Architectural details are complete, and in many cases original plans have
not been obscured by later additions. As a result, the Swedish Hill Historic
District is the best example in East Austin of a late nineteenth- and early
twentieth-century, residential neighborhood which remains intact.
Board of Directors
Texas Historical Commission; National Park Service; History of Travis County
and Austin, 1839-1899, Mary Starr Barkley (Waco: Texian Press, 1963);
Historic Austin: A Collection of Walking/Driving Tours, Sharon Edgar
Greenhill, (Austin: Heritage Society of Austin, 1981); Waterloo Scrapbook,
Katherine Hart: 1973-74 (Austin: Friends of the Austin Public Library,
1975); Ernest Severin, Svenskarne i Texas i ord och bild, 1838-1918 (Austin: