Historic Landmark CommissionApril 3, 2024

22.0 - 5304 Western Hills — original pdf

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22 – 1 HISTORIC LANDMARK COMMISSION DEMOLITION AND RELOCATION PERMITS APRIL 3, 2024 PR-2024-020630; GF-2024-028864 5304 WESTERN HILLS DRIVE PROPOSAL ARCHITECTURE RESEARCH Replace windows and siding, add a pool, add a patio, and add an accessory structure. One-story Mid-Century Modern house with irregular plan, clad in vertical wood siding and rustic stone. Its deep overhanging eaves shelter inset porches and exterior walkways, and a large stucco chimney dominates the rear elevation. Fixed floor-to-ceiling windows adorn much of the building’s exterior. The house at 5304 Western Hills Drive was built in 1962 for attorney Charles Alan Wright, along with his wife and five children. Wright, a University of Texas law professor, was an internationally recognized expert on constitutional law. He argued 13 cases before the United States Supreme Court and was “a quintessential friend” to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.1 As documented in Carl Tobias’ retrospective on Wright’s famous 54-volume Federal Practice and Procedure, Ginsburg remembered Wright as a "Colossus [who] stands at the summit of our profession,” declaring that “all who practice the lawyer's craft profit from his prodigious production” and that Wright’s treatise is “by far the most-cited treatise in the United States Reports [and] the procedural Bible for federal judges and all those who practice in our federal courts.”2 Wright became a household name for many Texans when he served as legal defense for President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. His New York Times obituary describes Wright’s role: “As a special legal consultant to Mr. Nixon in the summer of 1973, he argued unsuccessfully that the constitutional separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches protected the president from turning over White House tape recordings... Eventually, the tapes helped prove the extent of the conspiracy to obstruct justice.”3 However, in a memorial published by Geoffrey Hazard in the Texas Law Review, “the media focus on that engagement pained him, not only because it disregarded his other accomplishments as an advocate but also because of the implication that it was anomalous for an honorable lawyer to defend a person accused of dishonorable conduct. Charlie regarded such an engagement as merely a highly visible instance of constitutional procedure and professional practice.”4 Wright served as president of the American Law Institute and as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States. In 1955, he founded the University of Texas Legal Eagles, an intramural football team, and coached them until 1990 when he became their athletic director, a position he held until his death in 2000.56 PROPERTY EVALUATION Designation Criteria—Historic Landmark 1) The building is more than 50 years old. 2) The building appears to retain high integrity. 3) Properties must meet two criteria for landmark designation (LDC §25-2-352). Staff has evaluated the property and determined that it meets two criteria for landmark designation: a. Architecture. The building is constructed in the Mid-century Modern style. b. Historical association. The property is associated with attorney Charles Alan Wright, a University of Texas instructor and internationally renowned expert on constitutional law and the federal courts famous for his role on the defense team of Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal. 1 “Memorial Tributes - Charles Alan Wright, 1927- 2000.” 2024. http://www.ali.org/ali/CAW_UKTRIB.htm. 2 Tobias, Carl. “Charles Alan Wright and the Fragmentation of Federal Practice and Procedure.” Yale Law & Policy Review 19, no. 2 (2001): 463– 68. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40239571. 3 The New York Times. “Charles A. Wright, https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/09/us/charles-a-wright-72-legal-consultant-to-nixon-dies.html. 4 Hazard, Geoffrey C. https://repository.uclawsf.edu/faculty_scholarship/967/. 5 Charles Alan Wright Papers, Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas at Austin. https://txarchives.org/utlaw/finding_aids/00024.xml 6 “Tarlton Law Library: Exhibit - Legal Eagles.” 2024. https://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/legal-eagles. “In Memoriam: Charles Alan Wright.” UC Scholarship Repository, 72, Legal Consultant to Nixon, Dies (Published 2000).” Law SF 2024. 2024. c. Archaeology. The property was not evaluated for its potential to yield significant data concerning the human history or prehistory of the region. d. Community value. The property does not appear to possess a unique location, physical characteristic, or significant feature that contributes to the character, image, or cultural identity of the city, the neighborhood, or a particular demographic group. e. Landscape feature. The property was not evaluated for its ability to possess a significant natural or designed landscape with artistic, aesthetic, cultural, or historical value to the city. 22 – 2 STAFF RECOMMENDATION Approve the application, encouraging the applicants to limit modifications to the front windows and reduce the profile of the added bay. The proposed changes do not appear to preclude the building’s future eligibility as a historic landmark, given that most replacements appear like-for-like. LOCATION MAP 22 – 3 PROPERTY INFORMATION Photos 22 – 4 22 – 5 22 – 6 Partial demolition and addition permit application, 2024 Historical Information 22 – 7 “Tarlton Law Library: Exhibit - Legal Eagles: 1950s,” Utexas.edu, 2024. 22 – 8 22 – 9 22 – 10 “Memorial Tributes - CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT 1927- 2000,” 2024. https://web.archive.org/web/20070108010052/http://www.ali.org/ali/CAW_UKTRIB.htm. 22 – 11 The New York Times. “Charles A. Wright, 72, Legal Consultant to Nixon, Dies (Published 2000).” 2024. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/07/09/us/charles-a-wright-72-legal-consultant-to-nixon-dies.html. 22 – 12 Tobias, Carl. “Charles Alan Wright and the Fragmentation of Federal Practice and Procedure.” Yale Law & Policy Review 19, no. 2 (2001): 463–68. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40239571. 22 – 13 Wikipedia Contributors. “Charles Alan Wright.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, July 8, 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Alan_Wright. Charles Alan Wright Papers, Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas at Austin. Charles Alan Wright Papers, Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas at Austin. https://txarchives.org/utlaw/finding_aids/00024.xml 22 – 14 22 – 15 22 – 16 Texas State Cemetery. “Charles Alan Wright [7810].” Texas.gov, 2024. https://cemetery.tspb.texas.gov/pub/user_form.asp?pers_id=7810. Permits 22 – 17