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Old Bakery a bit of Old Austin

Michael Barnes
Old Bakery and Emporium

Nowadays, few people would consider demolishing a truly significant old Austin building. While preservationists remain rightly vigilant, the era of wholesale “urban renewal” is but a memory.

Give some credit to the early historical and architectural efforts made during the Depression — simultaneous with the Texas centennial and a surge of state patriotism — a time when the first systematic surveys were made. The movement gained steam and wider popularity in the 1970s, partly due to the American bicentennial, the national Main Street program and the countercultural rejection of what was perceived as widespread corporate modernism.

One turning point for downtown Austin was the salvation of the Lundberg building, which became the Old Bakery and Emporium. Swedish immigrant Charles Lundberg had purchased the building — half a block from the State Capitol grounds on Congress Avenue — in 1876, one year after it was built. It housed a bakery until 1937.

By the 1970s, it was slated by the state for replacement with a garage. Volunteers organized in typical Austin fashion, and then-State Sen. Lloyd Doggett helped transfer the building to the City of Austin. Since 1976, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department has run it under its seniors program, allowing folks to sell handmade crafts there.

In the 1980s, the Meadows Foundation helped out with a grant to restore a balcony as part of a larger restoration project. Today, the Old Bakery and Emporium doesn’t see much traffic, and many Austinites walk right past it without giving it a second glance. Time to look inside.

Old Bakery and Emporium