What is a historic resources survey?
Potential historic landmarks are identified in several ways. Often a property owner knows the history of the property and requests that it be designated as a historic landmark, which in Round Rock is formalized by applying H overlay zoning. Most other properties are identified with a historic resource survey and/or inventory. A historic resources inventory collects basic information about a selection of properties (usually presented as a table) to determine which properties are likely to have some historic significance and should be researched with a historic resources survey. A historic resources survey is a systematic method of documenting historic resources through fieldwork and research in order to understand which properties are historically or architecturally significant and therefore worthy of preservation. Over the past 50 years, the survey process has been standardized by the US Department of the Interior to ensure that the data is collected in a consistent manner from city to city across the country.
1992 Historic resources inventory and survey
The immediate purpose of the 1992 historic sites inventory was to document Round Rock’s houses, dwellings, commercial and institutional buildings in order to identify buildings that were suitable for local historic zoning. At the time only 41 properties had received H overlay zoning, including the 25 properties in the Commercial Historic District established in 1983. As the purpose of the inventory was to identify additional properties suitable for H overlay zoning, the study area was limited to the city limits and extra-territorial jurisdiction as they were in 1992.
- 1992 Inventory of Historic Sites Report (pdf, 12 MB)
Out of 424 properties inventoried the survey identified 60 high-priority, 128 medium-priority, and 183 low-priority structures and included detailed survey forms for each of the high-priority properties. As a result of the 1992 survey, 26 properties were zoned with H overlay in 1993 and another eight in 1997, bringing the total number of H overlay properties to 75. Nearly all of the high-priority structures eventually received H overlay zoning, but few of the medium- or low-priority structures did.
2010 Historic resources survey project
Between 1997 and 2010 H overlay zoning was added to one additional property (when it was annexed into the city limits), and was removed from five properties in 2005-2006 when their historic structures were demolished or remodeled with the intent of removing their historic features.
During public outreach for the Downtown Master Plan and 2010-2020 General Plan, residents made it clear that they wanted the city to preserve downtown Round Rock’s character. Because the downtown area was one of the first parts of New Town Round Rock to be developed, the Downtown Master Plan recommended that the city’s 1992 Historic Resources Inventory should be updated before any further action is taken, so that in the future, we would be in a better position to make informed decisions about potential redevelopment activities.
The Historic Resources Survey Project was a multi-year project to identify properties of historic significance in the Downtown Master Plan area, and to determine appropriate ways to protect the significance of these properties.
In spring 2010, the City hired McDoux Preservation to compile a record of each property within the Downtown Master Plan area. Phase I properties were also evaluated for whether a significant part of their historic significance was due to context and would be greatly diminished by relocating the structure. Due to the size of the survey area it was divided into two phases.
- 2010 Historic Resources Survey Report (Phase I) (pdf, 30 MB)
- 2010 Historic Resources Survey Report (Phase II) (pdf, 35 MB)
Together, the Phase I and Phase II survey reports recommended preserving about 10% of the properties in the Downtown Master Plan area. The report recommended the designation of 12 new historic landmarks and two new historic districts: the Texas Baptist Children’s Home and the East End, a concentration of residences noted in the 1992 survey. The report was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, Planning & Zoning Commission, and City Council as an addendum to the Downtown Master Plan.
Process design outcomes
The historic preservation ordinance included approval criteria only for altering or demolishing a property with H overlay zoning, but not for relocating it. A new section of the Code was developed to enable relocation of a historic building or structure as an option for property owners to consider in lieu of demolition, which was accepted by resolution on June 14, 2012. As of 2021 three historically significant structures have been relocated under this process and saved from demolition.
- Moving Historic Resources: Considerations and Implications in the City of Round Rock, Texas (Phase III) (pdf)
Because the City had not pursued the designation of an historic district since the Downtown Commercial Historic District in 1983, staff and the HPC planned to use the Phase IV project to develop and test new processes and application forms for designating historic districts and landmarks. In particular, the City wanted to create models for communicating the impacts of designation to property owners and for evaluating public support for historic designations.
- Phase IV Final Report (pdf)
Owners of the properties identified in the survey declined to pursue designation as historic landmarks (or as a historic district in the case of the Texas Baptist Children’s Home). The City Council voted against establishing the East End district, but later included design regulations in the area’s zoning districts that required consistency with the city’s Residential Historic Design Guidelines.