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An inside look: Preservation Austin Homes Tour to showcase local historic sites

(Leonid Furmansky)

Preservation Austin is getting “Out Of The House” with this year’s Annual Homes Tour.

Instead of guiding attendees through the halls of historical houses, this year Preservation Austin’s 30th annual tour will showcase sites around town from schools to churches to city buildings.

The event is Preservation Austin’s biggest fundraiser, going to support advocacy efforts in historic places. This will be the first in-person event held by the nonprofit since 2019.

Take a peek at the tour’s schedule.

Baker School | 3908 Avenue B

(Atelier Wong)

Built in 1911 in the historic Hyde Park neighborhood, the Baker School was first an elementary school, then a middle school, then a high school, then an administrative building for the city’s school district and now serves as the headquarters for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.

Castle Court Offices | 1105 Castle Ct.

(Rob Gomez)

As part of the former Texas Military Institute, the Castle Court Offices were built out of rubble limestone in 1873 and are located just near the Castle nearby. Originally the kitchen and mess hall, it is now used for office space.

Holly Street Murals | 2298 Riverview St.

(Catalina Cherñavvsky Sequeira)

Located on the sound wall of the now-defunct Holly Street Power Plant, local artists Felipe Garza, Robert Herrera, Oscar Cortez and Fidencio Duran painted the murals in the 1990s to reclaim their neighborhood, which did not want the plant in the first place.​

John & Drucie Chase Building | 1191 Navasota St.

(Anne Burnett)

Designed by the first Black graduate of UT’s School of Architecture and first licensed Black architect in Texas, John Saunders Chase, the 1,450-square-foot John & Drucie Chase Building was built in 1952 and served as the headquarters for the Colored Teachers Association of Texas. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Moya House | 1102 E. Cesar Chavez St.

(Ashley Garmon)

The only true home on the list, the 1930’s-built Moya house was home to Richard Moya, a Chicano activist and the first Mexican American Austinite to achieve public office in the city in 1970. His bungalow is now an event space.

Travis County Probate Courthouse | 200 W. 8th St.

(Casey Dunn)

An Austin-centric example of the New Deal-era architecture, the Old Federal Courthouse was built in 1936. The courthouse has been successfully updated since it was purchased by Travis County in 2016 and is currently seeking LEED Gold certification.

Wesley United Methodist Church | 1164 San Bernard St.

(Leonid Furmansky)

The city’s oldest church congregation, which formed in 1865, stays at Wesley United Methodist Church, which relocated from downtown to East Austin in 1929. The site of worship is characterized by its stained glass windows, Gothic Revival architecture and interior beams.

Tickets are on sale through Friday, starting at $30 for members and $40 for nonmembers, and the tour will begin at the Baker School.


‘Like speed dating of cats’ at Purr-fecto Cat Lounge
Purr-fecto Cat Lounge

Lina Martinez with her newly adopted cat, Emmanuel, who she renamed Sullivan.

Timmy and Tommy are ready to play.

As the 2-month-old white-and-tabby brothers swat feather wands, chase toys and generally hold court inside Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, a half-dozen potential adoptive parents look on lovingly, trying to get their attention.

“This is kind of like the speed dating of cats,” said Lupita Foster, owner of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge. “I intentionally didn’t put in any tables. That’s why we call it a lounge instead of a cat café because we have these lounge areas where you can sit and relax and cuddle.”

Foster, who has owned a cleaning company, Enviromaids, for 18 years, was inspired to open Purr-fecto Cat Lounge after adopting her own cat, Romeo, from a local shelter.

“When you want to adopt a cat, you have to spend a lot of time with them to get their personality,” Foster said. “I wanted to do something to help the community and something that makes me feel good, that warms my heart. A business with a purpose. This was a perfect idea.”

Actually, a purr-fect idea.

Inspired in part by a cat lounge she visited in Los Angeles, Foster began laying the groundwork for the business in late 2021 and officially opened the doors of Purr-fecto Cat Lounge, located at 2300 S. Lamar Blvd., in July 2022. Since then, she’s worked with rescue organizations such as Fuzzy Texan Animal Rescue and Sunshine Fund Cat Rescue to facilitate nearly 100 cat adoptions.

At any given time, there are 10-15 cats living in the space, which features an ideal blend of calm, cool corners and adorably Instagrammable backdrops with phrases such as “I want to spend all my 9 lives with you.”

Lina Martinez, 32, learned about Purr-fecto Cat Lounge from a friend’s Instagram post and made an appointment to visit two days later.

“My first impression was, ‘AWW!’” Martinez said. “The kittens were to die for. I felt happy and at peace – just what I needed.”

Visitors to the cat lounge pay $15 for a 30-minute CATXperience session or $30 for a 70-minute session that is spent getting to know the personalities of each cat. Foster said the first thing she typically sees from visitors to the lounge is a smile.

“Everybody that enters the door is smiling,” she said. “And we’ve seen people who have cried because they can’t have kids and they decide to go and adopt a cat instead.”

Foster said she loves bringing in cats who might not have a chance to be adopted at traditional shelters. She told the story of one cat named Izzy, who was partially blind, who was adopted by a family that had a deaf cat at home.

“Izzy was not going to get adopted anywhere else, but she’s extremely beautiful,” she said. “If she was in a cage in a rescue and you tell people she’s blind, she was probably going to be overlooked. But visiting our space, she doesn’t seem like she’s blind. She knows her way around. She moves around perfectly.”

Although Martinez, who had been casually looking for a pet to adopt since moving to Austin nearly four years ago, was interested in a cat named Ruby that she had seen on Purr-fecto’s social media, at the lounge she instead found herself drawn to 5-month-old mixed breed Tuxedo cat.

“I thought he was a star,” she said. “He worked the room and introduced himself to everyone. When I laid down to pet Ruby, he ran from the other side of the room and cuddled with me. It was game over. He got me.”

And she, of course, got him, complete with a commemorative photo that read “My Furrever Family” the day she took him home. Although his original name was Emmanuel, she renamed him Sullivan after her favorite DJ.

“Purr-fecto is special because of the amount of effort and love they put into taking care of the cats,” Martinez said, “and finding them good homes and making possible adopters feel at home.”

Foster, who spent a recent Thursday hosting a group of teenagers in foster care at the lounge, several of whom expressed interest in working there, said the best part about her new endeavor is that her heart is always full.

“I just feel complete,” she said. “I always felt as an entrepreneur that I was missing something. I knew I accomplished a lot, but in my heart I was missing a little connection with the community. Now I’m creating connections between humans and pets and that’s amazing. I’m creating family bonds. It’s just about love, you know. And we need that.”

Austin's 7 Best Indian Restaurants

We all have those cravings for an amazing butter chicken or some authentic dosas with coconut chutney, but when I was thinking about where I wanted to go to satisfy my taste buds I realized that my list of great Indian food around Austin was surprisingly short. After doing some research and asking around, here is your list of the best Indian restaurants around town.

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