Many modern-day Americans wouldn’t be able to survive a summer without a central air conditioning system. Those systems owe much of their existence to this small cluster of about 20 homes in the North Austin neighborhood of Allandale.
In the first half of the 20th century, air conditioning was a luxury that was only found in commercial business settings. But things began to change in the 1950s, when the National Association of Homebuilders came up with the novel idea of using air conditioning equipment in a residential setting.
Austin, Texas was lucky enough to be chosen as the location for a new housing development that would test this new idea. In 1954, these homes and the families living in them were subject to a year-long series of construction method tests, air conditioning installation tests, and social experiments implemented by dozens of the nation’s premier air conditioning companies, builders, and social scientists. The builders tried out a number of different features and technologies, including radiant barriers, white roofing, shading, vented gables, attic fans, and new insulation materials.
Although not quite as famous as they once were in the 1950s, the houses from the Austin Air Conditioned Village are still standing today in what is now a beautiful, quiet neighborhood in North Austin. Thankfully, very few of the homes have been remodeled or demolished due to Allandale’s strict policies on new development, preserving this unique piece of Austin’s history.
Know Before You Go
The Air Conditioned Village homes are still functional residences, so remember to be mindful of the people living there while you are visiting. The houses are located around the block formed by Twin Oaks Drive, Daugherty Street, Park View Drive, and Nasco Drive, just about 500 feet down Twin Oaks Drive from where it intersects Burnet Road at the 6600 block.