It looks just like a public restroom, doesn't it? Well, it is.

Still, the Little Stacy Park Shelter House is more than that. It's a part of Austin's story.

Named after William Harwood Stacy, who had a hand in developing several Austin residential districts, Little Stacy Park and its younger sibling to the south, Big Stacy Park, are the heart and soul of the Travis Heights neighborhood.

Both wind along Blunn Creek in an area connected by a greenbelt that saw stop-and-start growth of the surrounding subdivisions: Swisher Addition (1870s), Fairview Park (1880s) and Travis Heights proper (early 20th century).

The land for Little Stacy, on a horseshoe bend of the rather rugged creek, was purchased by the City of Austin in 1929.

Its tiny wading pool was added in the 1930s. Nearby are tennis courts, a volleyball court and picnic areas. Also trails that attract joggers, power walkers and dog followers.

The 1930 Mission Style shelter structure is stuccoed and tiled — complementing some of the Hollywood-influenced homes in the area — consisting of two square rooms connected by a flat roof.

What the casual visitor might not recognize right away: The area in between the rooms with grilled windows was meant for performances and games.

It's a theatrical space in the purest sense. The mini-theater sometimes assumes that role even today during park parties.

Another way the shelter house fits into Austin history: The designer was Hugo Kuehne, one of Austin's most prominent 20th century architects. A parks aficionado, Kuehne designed shelters for Pease Park, West Austin Park, Shipe Park and Eastwoods Park.

So the next time you stroll by, don't dismiss the humble little hut in the park.

Contact Michael Barnes at 445-3970