The Bouldin Creek neighborhood in near South Austin is bounded by Town Lake on the north and Oltorf Street on the south. It lies between South Congress Avenue to the east, and the Union Pacific railroad tracks near South Lamar Boulevard to the west. There are over 2,700 households and over 5,600 residents in the area, which includes Auditorium Shores, The Long Center for the Performing Arts, and the Lester E. Palmer Community Events Center.
Residents can walk or bicycle among tall oak trees and historic homes to family-owned grocery stores, bakeries, barber shops, restaurants and cafes. This close-in model of compact residential and commercial harmony features community parkland offer promising opportunities for greenbelt and hike and bike-trail connections to Town Lake recreation and commuting networks.
One of Austin’s oldest neighborhoods, Bouldin Creek was carved out of a parcel deeded to Isaac Decker in 1735 and dates to the turn of the century, with several historic homes dating to that era still standing. Most of the neighborhood’s growth occurred in the 1920s and 1930s. (A 1910 street map shows Bouldin as next-to-nothing whereas a 1920 map shows it as Austin’s southernmost “suburb.”) Bouldin Creek was home to one of Austin’s most famous voices, the late speaker, writer, and first amendment rights activist John Henry Faulk, whose boyhood residence, the landmark 1894 Victorian mansion of Dr. E.W. Herndon, is now occupied by Green Pastures Restaurant. Other neighborhood notables include Negro League baseball great Willy Wells and UT Tower gunman Charles Whitman.
Before post-war damming and flood control, real estate south of the river was cheap, partially due to frequent Colorado River flooding, which often left residents and businesses stranded from downtown. As a result, many black families made their homes in the Bouldin neighborhood. Today,this early ethnic diversity is visible at the 1916 St. Anne African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1711 Newton Street, and the nearby Goodwill Baptist Church, 1700 Newton.
The neighborhood’s largest institutional resident is the Texas School for the Deaf. Established in 1856, the school’s 65 acre campus stretches between South Congress and South First Street and from Barton Springs Road to Elizabeth Street. The original school building was demolished in 1956. An ambitious expansion and renovation program began at the school in 1992 and continues today.
Bouldin Creek’s most unique asset is the people who live here. From its historic south-of-the-river, second-class status, the neighborhood has become home to diverse cultural groups ranging from decades-old residents to new tenants; from old hippies to young techies. The result is an eclectic mix of folks whose interests and expressions run the gamut.