Lockhart Area Plan
Historical Housing Preservation
By Barbara Pruitt
Lockhart, TX is a community 30 miles south of Austin which benefits in certain
ways from its close proximity to such a large city. Founded at a juncture on the
Chisholm cattle trail, Lockhart is known as the “Barbeque Capitol of Texas” and benefits
from the tourism that comes from various seasonal attractions.
Lockhart has a population of 11,615 and has grown by 23% in one decade with no
signs of slowing.
The citizens of Lockhart are mainly Caucasian, with a large minority of
Hispanics/Latinos and some Blacks and African Americans. African Americans can be
found on the east side of town, Caucasians on the west, and Hispanics to the north and
According to the Texas Low Income Housing Information Service, the Area
Median Family Income (AMFI) for Lockhart is $64,700, which means that many citizens
of Lockhart are eligible for low-income housing. Median household income in Lockhart
is $18,512 compared to Texas’ average of $27,016. 32.8% of Lockhart is below the
poverty level. As of 1999, the largest percentage of households with an annual income of less than $10,000 (the area of highest poverty) was on the east side of Hwy. 183 between E. Market St. and E. FM 20. Lockhart has 108 public housing apartments, 3 developments for project based section 8, and 3 developments for low income housing tax credit.
Since the late 1800’s, Lockhart has had a beautiful downtown historic district,
which includes the Caldwell County Courthouse (built in 1865), the town square surrounding the courthouse lined with shops and offices, and historic homes of wealthy and prominent Lockhart citizens. In recent years the population has rapidly grown, but people are tending to move into newer neighborhoods along the corridors of I-35 and I-30. These neighborhoods do not reflect the beauty and unique characteristics of the downtown historic and business district. Since these new neighborhoods are residential-use only, the people must drive to nearby strip shopping malls to use local businesses and support services. In addition, the lower-income houses, particularly East of I-35, appear run-down and are in need of repair and paint. Following with the ideas of architect Frederick Law Olmstead, the act of beautifying urban spaces would renew the pride and spirit of the town and, in effect, would inspire its citizens to continue to maintain their properties well into the future.
Lockhart Historic Architecture
Many prominent citizens built their homes in the Central Business District (CBD) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, founding a neighborhood that is now
known as Lockhart’s historic district. This neighborhood, in the area of Trinity and
Prairie Lea streets (see Map), was home to wealthy Caucasian citizens in the 1920s, but is now becoming occupied by African American citizens of Lockhart.
Many of the homes in Lockhart which are classified as Historic have common features. Most were built in the late 1800’s by prominent white citizens. Most of the
homes were created in Victorian (particularly Queen Anne) or Greek Revival styles and give the homes qualities unique to the Lockhart area. The Greek Revival homes have clean, rigid lines and are symmetrical, with porticos and white columns. The Queen Anne Victorians were popular in the 1880s and 1890s among the rural elite who wished to show off elaborate homes. These houses are more likely to be asymmetrical and have whimsical touches, with bell or cone-shaped turrets and white wooden railings along the porches. Most of the homes are two-storied and are covered with either red or yellow brick or white horizontal wood paneling. Many of the homes have either real or decorative porticos over the main door, always supported by several columns. These columns are generally Doric, although some are Ionic or simple posts. Most of the homes have wooden porches that extend approximately 10 feet from the house, and are raised from the ground so that a short set of stairs are placed in front of the main door to the house (usually located at the center of the facade). Simple white extensions from the porch often flank these outdoor steps. Many of the homes have porches on the upper floor; nearly half have second-floor porches that extend along the entire front facade. Intricate glasswork and stained glass windows can be found in many of these homes.
A unique exception to these large homes is the Brock Log Cabin, which was moved to its present location along Hwy. 183 in 1975. Built in the 1850s, this two-room
log cabin is the possibly the oldest building in the county. This home reminds us that the history of Lockhart is not only seen in the homes of the wealthy and prominent, and that such buildings must be preserved.
Existing Historic Preservation
The State of Texas and the city of Lockhart have designated over 24 Lockhart Historical Landmarks and 11 Texas State Historical Landmarks or Markers. The National Register of Historic Places includes 66 Lockhart locations. Of the historical homes which the City of Lockhart has identified, 10 are Lockhart Historical Landmarks and 5 are Texas State Historical Landmarks or Markers.
The city works in conjunction with the Historical Homes Association to ensure that the owners of identified historical homes want to alter the appearance of the exterior of their home, they get consent from the HHA. In addition, the Lockhart Business Committee has special historic district rules which it enforces with its homeowners.
In 1894, the Caldwell County Courthouse was completed. Recently, the
courthouse had its exterior completely restored and its interior completely renovated. The restoration/renovation project was paid for through a Federal matching grant and a County Bond Issue. The courthouse was rededicated on April 8th, 2000.
The Lockhart Business Committee (LBC) desires a complete upgrade of the appearance of the Central Business District in order to attract both businesses and customers to the CBD. They wish to upgrade the signs, place a new park next to the library, and create a more mixed-use zone. They would bring businesses into the CBD
by estimating the number of new jobs created by a new store or office and offer them tax
abatement based on that number.
The Lockhart 2020 plan plans to improve both the CBD and housing in general,
but does not mention historic housing.
Goals and Objectives
The Lockhart development objectives are as follows:
Improve the appearance of lower-income neighborhoods. Many of the lower-
income homes within the city have become unkempt and are in need of repair. Many of
the homes have not been painted in many years, and are covered in chipped paint.
Develop Lockhart into a community which takes pride in its appearance and
becomes more pedestrian-friendly. Lockhart has created shopping centers and offices along highways and far from neighborhoods. People often require a car to shop for
groceries or visit the post office. By placing businesses away from highways and closer
to the homes of the people who use its services, Lockhart would become a more
pedestrian-friendly and beautiful city.
Preserve the historical base Lockhart has while continuing to grow and become a
technological city. Lockhart has changed in many ways since the Battle of Plum Creek.
It is swiftly becoming a highly populated, modern community, but it need not forget its
Encourage new development in the city to support the increasing population and
aesthetically blend the styles of new development homes with existing homes in the
Historic District. Lockhart must allow for new developments if it wishes to support its growing population. These new neighborhoods should reflect the character of historical
Lockhart in the architecture of its homes in order to bring the city closer and give it the
feeling of a unique community. Even lower- and middle-income housing units should
reflect the characteristics of the original homes of Lockhart. New homes which are
creative or of a new architectural style are acceptable; it is the dull, “tract home” neighborhoods which need to be avoided by Lockhart and its developers.
Encourage new mixed-land use developments to locate around existing Business
Districts, recreational sites, or schools. In order to avoid “strip-malls” along Hwy. 183
or the future I-30, businesses should be incorporated into mixed-land use neighborhoods,
and neighborhoods should be located within walking distance to a business district,
recreational site, or school.
Direct a mixed-land use development pattern in new development areas which,
using covenants and public and private partnerships create a mixed-use area which has
some of the feel of the CBD and Historical District. These areas should mimic the CBD
in that housing, businesses and service industries are located in the same area.
Traditionally, housing guidelines only controlled the density of new neighborhoods, but
new guidelines created by this policy may control the contents of new neighborhoods as
Avoid “strip-malls”, especially along the Hwy. 183 and future I-30 corridors,
instead focusing on Central Business Districts.
Contractor Covenants and New Developments
New developments would be shaped somewhat by new mixed-use zoning, but
mostly by covenants and public and private partnerships. Contractor covenants would be
an agreement between new developments and the City of Lockhart which would enable
the City to control the architectural styles of homes in the new neighborhoods. New
subdivision contractors would be required to sign a contract that says they must have at
least 3 features of an historic Lockhart home (as listed) in at least 50% of the homes they
build in the city. This covenant would need to be voted in by the citizens of Lockhart.
Homes must include three of the following features:
Greek Revival architectural features such as
-White Columns, either Doric or Ionic
Queen Anne Victorian architectural features such as
-Overall asymmetric shape
-Bell- or cone-shaped turret
-Spindles or other fanciful decoration, following with the Victorian style
General architectural features such as
-Horizontal wood paneling, painted white
-Red or yellow brick
-Wooden front porches extending at least 8 feet from the house and at
least halfway across the facade, preferably extending along the entire
-Second-floor wooden porches
The contractors would pay for these architectural designs with their own money.
In return, the City of Lockhart would waive the Road Impact fees for contractors who
sign the covenant, in order to encourage housing options with historical characteristics.
Subdivisions will be approved by the Planning and Zoning committee only if they meet
In order to improve the appearance of the exteriors of lower-income homes, we
will use HUD money to paint these homes. City officials will work with HUD workers
to secure assistance. Since Lockhart is not a “Main Street City” it cannot receive money
from the Main Street city program. To be fair to citizens who may not receive the benefit
of these neighborhoods, the money must come from expected gains to the economy caused by these improvements, not taxes. The homeowners will paint their own homes with the paint given to them, if they choose. The painting must be supervised so that it is done in the proper way. As of 1999, the area of greatest poverty was located on the east side of Hwy. 183 between E. Market St. and E. FM 20. These homes would receive the majority of the supplied paint.
Mixed-Use Zoning Changes
In addition to covenants, the City Council will need to change the zoning restrictions in several areas of the city into Mixed-Use areas. These areas will be located within walking distance of business districts, recreational sites, or schools.
Preliminary sights chosen for mixed-use designation:
- FM 672 and Carver St. across from Plum Creek and Carver Elementary Schools and Sports Complex
-Hwy 183 and Industrial Zone III, across from Wal-Mart
-Lockhart Municipal Airport and surrounding area
-Triangle of West San Antonio St, Borchert Dr. and City Line Road
Areas of mixed-land use provide more economic growth and taxes to the City than areas of residential-use only.