Preservation Austin awards $27,500 to Austin restoration projects

In its first round of 2022 grants, Preservation Austin awarded a total of $27,500 to five projects, including the Roberts Clinic in East Austin, Cisco’s Restaurant Bakery and Bar, and the 1940 Luther Hall Building.

The nonprofit organization recently overhauled its grant program and now awards funds on a semester cycle and increased awards up to $10,000.

The Roberts Clinic received a $5,000 award to support the architectural planning, construction and promotion of the building’s historical significance. The preservation project is in the early stages of completing repair and restoration work.

A two-story, colonial-revival brick building on San Bernard Street in East Austin, the Roberts Clinic was built in 1937 by Dr. Edward L. Roberts. It was Austin’s first medical facility to open exclusively to African Americans.

During the Jim Crow era, racial discrimination and segregation affected the quality of medical care African Americans received, and black doctors were professionally subordinated to white doctors. Proprietary clinics, like the Roberts Clinic which operated from the 1930s to the 1950s, provided black doctors with professional autonomy to practice on patients who were treated without the humiliation of segregationist policies.

The Roberts Clinic housed the medical facility on the first floor while the Roberts family lived on the second.

Until his death in 1967, Roberts administered treatment for preventive, acute and chronic illnesses; performed minor surgeries; and provided labor and delivery services to Austin’s black community. The building is Austin’s only surviving example of a medical clinic built by a black doctor during the segregated period in the United States.

The clinic is listed on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for Ethnic Heritage: Black American and Health/Medicine. It is also a landmark of the city of Austin.

Luther Hall
Luther Hall faces W. 16th St. just off Congress Ave.

The Texas Historical Commission received $7,500 for work on the 1940 Luther Hall building. Plans include removing paint from the limestone brick facade and cast stone features to reveal the original modernist design.

At the southwest corner of 16th Street and Congress Avenue, just north of the State Capitol, Luther Hall was originally built as the administrative building of the Gothic-style Gethsemane Lutheran Church, it -even built in 1883 by the Swedish Lutheran Church of Austin. After the congregation left the church, the state of Texas acquired the property. In 1972, the church and Luther Hall became part of the Texas Historical Commission complex.

Cisco

Founded in 1948 by Rudy “Cisco” Cisneros, Cisco’s Restaurant Bakery and Bar on East Sixth Street is a popular gathering spot for politicians, community leaders and neighborhood diners. Homeowners received $8,500 to bring aging electrical wiring and water lines up to code.

The Old Austin Neighborhood Association received $5,000 to research and prepare its application for a National Register Historic District in downtown Austin. The designation aims to preserve the historic assets of the district. Finally, the Austin History Center Association received $1,500 to repair and reinstall a historic 1933 bronze dedicated plaque that was vandalized.

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