Willow-Spence National Historic District
900-1100 Spence St. & Willow St.
The Willow-Spence Streets Historic District is an architectural gem in East Austin. Most of the buildings included in the district date to the early twentieth century, and at least one, to the late nineteenth century. This district encompasses the architectural and engineering expertise of the turn of the twentieth century, and it displays various architectural styles and plans for wood buildings common to the period. There are 68 contributing structures of the era, which include houses, churches, and commercial properties. These structures remain preserved very much as they were since the 1930s, despite bordering districts succumbing to drastic modernization.
Between the two World Wars, growth in Austin pushed many minorities east out of the central downtown area. The Willow-Spence neighborhood reflects this change. At 1200 Willow Street stands El Buen Pastor Presbyterian Church, formerly listed as the First Street Methodist Episcopal Church built around 1902.
The neighborhood is located east of the Interstate Highway 35 frontage road. Waller Street is the western boundary for the district, with the majority of the buildings residing on Willow Street and Spence Street. The neighborhood is neatly enclosed by Sanchez Elementary School to the south and an alleyway to the north, which partitions the district from East Cesar Chavez Street.
In 1985, a group of local citizens nominated the Willow Spence Streets Historic District to the National Register of Historic Place of the National Park Service under the United States Department of the Interior for its significance in architecture. "In a city where specific functions and services have been segregated from one another, the Willow-Spence Streets Historic District is a rare example of a neighborhood in which homes, businesses, and churches are fully integrated and architecturally compatible."