Austin Athletic Club

Historic Site
2stars (2.00)1
1200 Shoal Creek Blvd.

Austin Athletic Club.  Note the painted sign.
Austin Athletic Club. Note the painted sign.
Austin has a history of physical activity and in at least one spot a physical reminder of an active past. In 1931 the Austin Athletic Club was built by the Austin Parks & Recreation Department. The price for membership in the 1930's ran at $1 per year and $1 per month. Of course that was when a buck was really worth a buck.

The facility had a name change in 1971 when it became the Austin Recreation Center, a name that is used to this day. However, this building's fate was partially sealed 10 years later.

In 1981 Shoal Creek reminded Austin that she was not to be ignored. A massive flood hit on Memorial Day. Homes, cars and people were all lost to the raging waters. The flooding reached the Austin Athletic Club too and the damage prompted the city to draw up plans for a new recreation center.

Somebody forgot to clean up before leaving.
Somebody forgot to clean up before leaving.
In January 1987 the doors of the Athletic Club were closed for good. The new recreation center is designed to avoid the problems inherint in the old building. The new structure is farther from the creek and resides on stilts. Although the original plans for the new facility included the destruction of the old one, the city has never approved funds to accomplish this. So the 70+ year old building sits with no future in site.

As the roof and windows give way deterioration accelerates.
As the roof and windows give way deterioration accelerates.
The building is not in use and continues to weather badly. The tennis courts of the recreation center abut the building and although some use the back porch of the old building for shade it is otherwise completely unused. Note that although we have a photo of the building's interior we did not break into the structure. One of the doors on the back porch included windows, long since broken, that provided ample space to stick a camera in and snap a photo.

Sooner or later the city will get around to demolishing this stately structure. Visit it while you can if you happen to be hiking along the Shoal Creek Greenbelt, which passes right next to it.

Update (June 3, 2006): The Parks and Recreation Department and the The Historic Landmark Commission are debating what to do about this building. $340,000 to tear it down or $3,000,000 to restore it. has a story about the competing interests.

Update (January 10, 2008): The Austin Athletic Building is no more. I'm not sure when the demolition occurred, but today a brand new parking garage for Austin Community College was well under construction.

Sources: Austin Chronicle's Bygone Buildings

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