The Rise (or Fall) of the Clarksville’s Last Holdout Corner Lot

The past and a vision of the future. Photo by Mary Lowry.
The past and a vision of the future. Photo by Mary Lowry.

When I was four years old and first moved to Clarksville, a couple of teachers would’ve most likely been able to afford a mortgage on a small house in the neighborhood. These days a little 1300 square foot bungalow goes on the market for half a million dollars. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to stay in Clarksville if I wasn’t willing to live in 300 square feet of rented heaven.

My awareness that I would not be able to pay even property taxes on a tiny house in the area of town I fell in love with as a kid caused me to develop a deep affection for Clarksville’s last undeveloped corner lot. I’ve been admiring it for years, as it sat unchanged and boldly defying gentrification.

I noticed when the only structure on the lot–a little wooden shack– was joined by a practically capacious RV. The addition seemed to fit and the lot continued to remind me of the bedraggled houses, children and dogs that occupied the Clarksville of my childhood.

So it was with dismay that, while out for a walk the other day, I spotted the sign warning of the imminent transformation of Clarksville’s last holdout corner lot.

The lot’s future? The shed, the RV, the trees, all will be razed or removed to make way for the Four Luxury Townhouses of Woodlawn Plaza.

But who am I, a lowly little renter, to deny such progress?

Why Clarksville?

In order to understand the macrocosm of the history and culture of Texas, it’s important to understand the state on a microcosmic level as well.

That’s why examining the past and present of my favorite Texas neighborhood, Central Austin’s Clarksville. I’ve lived in Clarksville, on-and-off, for the past 29 years.

Clarksville sits a short 25-minute walk from the Texas state capitol.

A freedman’s colony after the Civil War; a shabby, eclectic middle class neighborhood during the years of my childhood; Clarksville is now gentrified, mostly white, and full of quirky, thriving local businesses.

Author: Mary Pauline Lowry


Mary Pauline Lowry, a fourth generation Texan, fought forest fires on an elite type 1 “Hotshot” crew, which traveled the Western U.S battling wildfires.

More recently, Lowry has dedicated her time to the movement to end violence against women, counseling and advocating for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, as well as lobbying the Texas legislature for funding and new laws to benefit survivors.

Mary Pauline Lowry’s unsold novel, The Gods of Fire, based on her experiences as a forest firefighter, has been optioned for film. She is currently writing the screenplay.

3 thoughts on “The Rise (or Fall) of the Clarksville’s Last Holdout Corner Lot”

  1. Mary, I share your love of Clarksville, having lived at 12th and Shelley in a little old six-unit apartment building with crazy landlords and wood floors for two years up until May. I was born and raised in the Zilker neighborhood, perched on the southern hill at Barton Springs and Lamar, but Clarksville has always seemed exotic and studied to me.

    I love your posts because you always capture Clarksville the way I feel about it: wistful, longing, crisp fall air, sycamore leaves scattered across the ground. There is no more beautiful sight than coming down 15th Street across Lamar, on foot, and taking in one of my favorite views of the city, gleaming in late afternoon winter sunlight.
    I moved to the East Side, so I could stay close to town and actually attempt to buy a house. Since then, I've realized that Clarksville does lack one thing: children. There are no ice cream trucks, no tots bicycling down Castle Hill. I don't know if it's because the only people who can afford to live in Clarksville are those who gave up children for shiplap siding and BMWs, or if the Clarksville kids are all just playing Wii inside on oriental rugs.

    But Clarksville holds a special place in my heart, as gentrified as it may be, like a piece of old jewelry that's too valuable wear.

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