Red River Oral History and Audio Tour with Vandegrift FFA Is Underway!

This spring Preservation Austin partnering with the Vandegrift High School FFA to create an audio tour of historic properties within the Red River Cultural District. Designated in 2013, this stretch of Red River between 6th and 10th Streets is a major hub of Austin’s live music scene with a long and colorful history.  The initial project will focus on Stubbs, Emo’s, Elysium, and Mohawk, using photos, historical narratives, and audio commentary to bring this unique cultural asset to life. Threatened by rising rents and development pressures, the Red River Cultural District’s long-term viability is one of the most important preservation issues facing Austin today. Through this project we hope to promote the importance of the district’s past and present to locals, tourists, and policymakers alike.







This is our first audio tour produced in collaboration with high school students, and we’ve designed the project to get them excited about historic preservation and research.  Over the next few months fifteen students will learn how to perform archival property research, how to conduct oral history interviews, how to take architectural photography, how to design their own research projects and how to think critically about the information they collect.  Nancy Toombs, the Austin History Center’s Head of Public Services, has assisted with archival training, and Kirsten Ronald, a doctoral candidate in American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is designing the curriculum and training students in oral history research. Each of the students’ buildings was constructed prior to 1950, including Mohawk, which dates to the 1880s at least. We’ve already uncovered stories of sharp-shooters and a multi-state car theft ring. Just imagine what the students will have gathered by May!

The Red River Cultural District is crucial to Austin’s history and culture. We're excited to engage these incredible students in its preservation while training a new generation of advocates! Stay tuned as things progress...