By Kelly Little, Mid Tex Mod Board Secretary
Mid Tex Mod would like to thank Trisha and Douglas Shepard for welcoming us into their gorgeous mid-century home last month for an open house organized by board member Trey McWhorter, a real estate agent in the Austin area working to bring awareness and education about the significance and value of the homes in Austin's mid-century neighborhoods of Highland Park, Highland Park West, Balcones Park, Foothills Terrace, Colorado Foothills and Beverly Hills. This members-only event allowed an intimate group of Modern enthusiasts to visit the Pohl House, designed by Roland Gommel Roessner for Dr. Donald and Marjorie Pohl and completed in 1955.
Credit: Steve Butman Photography
R. Gommell Roessner was born in Terre Haute, Indiana in 1911. He received his Bachelor of Architecture from Miami University in 1935 and his Master's from the University of Cincinnati. Roessner taught at the University of Texas School of Architecture in a career that spanned from 1948-1982, and successfully combined teaching with his professional career as an architect. A 1953 article in the Austin American-Statesman noted that Roessner sought to find a typically Southwestern style of architecture and to translate the “feel” of the Lone Star State into his designs. Roessner was lauded for his ability to design open-plan Modern spaces that managed to create a feeling of privacy for his clients. He was named professor emeritus in 1983 and an endowed Centennial Professorship was established in his name at the University of Texas at Austin. Roessner was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and passed away in 2001.
MTM members Angela and Pierre Filardi chat with MTM board member Trey McWhorter. Photo credit: Sara Luduena
Roessner’s design at the Pohl House is elegant and innovative, yet family friendly. Like many mid-century Modernists, Roessner sought to integrate the house into its natural landscape and blur the division between indoor and outdoor spaces. Floor-to-ceiling windows combine with fir ceilings that extend out to the soffits, creating a feeling of openness throughout the home. Native stone on the lower portion of the exterior and on the fireplace help the house to feel like it rises up out of its hilly site on Balcones.
Dr. and Marjorie Pohl raised three boys in the home and continued to live out their lives there. The Shepards purchased the property in 2013 after a long search for a mid-century Modern home with the design elements noted above. With Roessner’s original plans in hand, interior designer Trisha Shepard began a tireless renovation for her family which retained the the home’s character-defining features that made it so timelessly elegant and Modern.
Mid Tex Mod is thrilled that the Pohl House will be featured as part of our popular "Mid-Century for the 21st Century: Residential Case Studies" series in partnership with AIA Austin. We are proud to facilitate a discussion of the rehabilitation of this property, along with another Roessner design renovated by Clayton & Little, especially given that nearby Roessner houses have been recently lost due to foundation problems similar to those faced by the Shepards. We are excited to highlight how a property of this caliber can be saved and made to shine again despite the oft-cited issues faced in Austin.