The Texas Classroom Teachers Association is proud to have the 1886 John Bremond Jr., mansion serving as TCTA headquarters in Austin, Texas.
In 1969, TCTA purchased this beautiful Victorian home as well as the home next door and then embarked on a major renovation campaign to save these historically significant structures, which were in serious disrepair. Today, both of these mansions and the other homes that make up the Bremond block are beautifully renovated and listed on the city, state and national historical registers.
"The 1886 Second Empire style John Bremond house on the corner of Seventh and Guadalupe is the most outstanding of all of the buildings and has been pictured in textbooks as a graceful and exuberant example of Texas Victorian architecture. Its crested mansard roof has elaborate dormers, polychrome slate shingles, and concave bracketed curves on the front gable. The cast-iron work on the wrap-around gallery is outstanding." — Handbook of Texas Online
On April 6, 1957, the following recommendation was read into the record at TCTA's annual business meeting:
"That we proceed without delay to establish a Building Fund, so that before many years we can have our own headquarters in Austin, the seat of much activity related to teachers and schools..."
The following year, approval was given for the purchase of the 1887 Walter Bremond House to serve as TCTA headquarters, and the association’s connection with the historic Bremond Block began.
The Bremond Block comprises homes once owned by various members of this prosperous banking and mercantile family. It is one of only two Victorian-era residential blocks in the United States where all the houses have been preserved. The block is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and each of the Bremond houses is a registered historic landmark.
From a business perspective, TCTA’s investments in the Bremond Block have been good ones. The Walter Bremond House served as TCTA headquarters for 10 years, during which time the association’s membership nearly doubled and its staff grew from two to 18. TCTA also purchased its adjacent "carriage" house, which was used for many years as an in-town residence for TCTA presidents. In 1967, the Pierre Bremond House located around the corner became available. The house and land were acquired by TCTA for almost half the price of unimproved downtown lots.
A year later TCTA purchased the adjacent John Bremond, Jr., House, which the YMCA of Austin had previously owned and occupied. Today, this house, flagship of the block, serves as the association’s headquarters. TCTA owns this and the Pierre Bremond House without debt. View aerial photos of the Bremond Block.
TCTA’s involvement with the Bremond Block extends far beyond well-considered acquisition of property. Purchase of these Victorian-era houses has included:
The John Bremond, Jr., House posed the additional problem of restoration from use as a recreational facility, which left such features as hooks in the ceiling (used for punching bags) and multiple showers used by YMCA members. TCTA also has worked to restore the original interior detail of the Bremond homes, which had been modified through the years with such design trends as shag carpeting and orange paint.
To understand the scope of repair and restoration of the interiors of these houses, one must consider the large number of decorative details and the craftsmanship embodied in the original construction. From floors inlaid with 15 species of woods to finely tooled brass hinges and doorknobs; from plaster ceiling moldings and chandelier crowns to stained and etched glass windows; from gently arching stairways to Italian marble decorations; from the central skylight to breathtaking, hand-carved wooden fireplace mantels, these houses are resplendent with features that require the investment of time and skill in their preservation.
TCTA has worked to enhance many of the original features through the selection of wallpaper that suggests Victorian sensibilities, tasteful selection of paint and carpeting that complements the beauty of the woodwork and highlights the height and depth of each room, and the choice of elegant furnishings that reflects quality craftsmanship.
The Bremonds must have sensed the impact that their involvement in the business community could make for the growing city of Austin. So, too, has TCTA sought to make significant, long-range changes in the Texas educational landscape. It is fitting that this association should carry forward a part of the Bremond legacy in the Austin community. We are proud to play a role in preserving our collective cultural heritage.