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?
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.