Arthur Dallas Stenger began building houses in the 1940s in Austin, primarily on Arthur Lane in the Barton Hills area, which is named after his father (the first Arthur Dallas Stenger), who was also an architect. Although Stenger attended the University of Texas School of Architecture after returning home from World War II, he never graduated. He obtained his architecture license as a university student and began building houses for the postwar Austinites.
Although FHA loans had built-in design constraints, it did not stop Stenger from creating unique, moderately priced homes, even if he had to help homeowners find loans. He also worked differently than other builders, buying land (primarily in the Barton Hills and Pemberton Heights areas), finding a buyer, and building a house without his clients signing contracts. There was no pressure for the buyer to take the house upon completion, although clients rarely left after viewing the house.
A Stenger home will stand out, with characteristic low-spiked ceilings lined with concrete, wood, rock, and other organic materials. He also used rocks and stones quarried from the house site as cladding or built in the chimney, helping the house easily adapt to its surroundings. Stenger loved the long, low fireplaces reminiscent of 1950s living rooms, so every home he built included a wood-burning fireplace, though not particularly necessary in the heart of Texas.
Homes also have many of the amenities that Austin’s great modern construction boom now appreciates, with window walls and triforium windows hanging just below the exposed roofline, and tinted concrete floors, which now cost around $ 10 per square foot. He also used the organic construction theory of “bringing the exterior in”, running exterior masonry through the house and into the interior.
Although Barton Hills appeared as “the world’s largest air-conditioned subdivision” in the 1956 Home Parade, Stenger did not build their homes with central air. Instead, he built large windows to catch the morning light, and not the hot mid-afternoon sunlight, and a floor plan to allow a breezy passage through the vent when the windows were opened.
In 1957, when Stenger’s friend, radio host John Henry Faulk, blacklisted as a communist in the McCarthy era, he built and financed a house for himself, knowing that his friend was overwhelmed by the legal fees. He also took into account the financial situations of his other clients, helping to offset the costs of the furniture with various built-in furniture and pricing his houses between $ 18,000 and $ 22,000, although today they can range from $ 400,000 to $ 600,000.
Stenger built around 100 unique houses in the Austin area, building the last one for his wife Jean in 1999, a few years before he died in 2002 at the age of 82. Today’s battle is among those seeking Stenger houses for their originality and great use. of space, and others who prefer to tear down these houses to build bigger houses, since the places are highly sought only for their land.