eeeeYAH eeeYAH eeeeYAH! That’s the best way I can describe the peacock chorus greeting I received when I walked into Mayfield Park. This gorgeous estate located in West Austin features these beautiful birds, trail systems, gardens, and a historical home.
Purchased in 1909 by Texas Secretary of State and Texas Railroad Commission chairman Allison Mayfield, the property was meant to be a summer getaway home for his family. In 1922, Mayfield’s daughter, Mary, and her husband, Dr. Milton Gutsch, moved into the home and set beautiful changes into motion.
In 1935, the Gutsches received a pair of peafowl as a Christmas gift. Today, there are roughly 18 peafowl that call Mayfield Park home, and many of them are descendants of the original pair.
There are two types of peafowl: the India Blue male and grey hen, and the Black Shouldered male and white hen. While I was there, most of the peacocks fanned their tail feathers out periodically while photographers snapped photos. The peahens looked on, disinterested. Soon, they will lose their ornate tail feathers (late July/August) and visitors may take home any feathers they find.
Most of the peafowl can be spotted on the grounds, but they’re known to travel next door to Laguna Gloria, the country club, and the trail system behind the park.
Outside the walls of Mayfield Park lies the Mayfield Nature Preserve. There are three entrances to relatively easy hikes along dirt and rock trails. Helpful kiosks and posts are placed along the walkways, and I came across a beautiful water view on one of the trails.
The Gutsches built the stone walls, ponds, and gardens in collaboration with Esteban Arredondo, their gardener. He lived on the property with his wife and children. Their small home is still on the grounds and now holds visitor information. The vision the Gutsches and Arredondo achieved gives visitors many wonderful things to discover.
The six large ponds are arranged in the shape of a flower. They’re home to koi and various fish, turtles, snakes and beautiful lilies. There is also a smaller, ornate brass pond next to the cottage that was imported from France.
Beyond the ponds are rentable garden spaces. Community members keep their gardens for years, and their commitment shows. Near the gardens is another stone structure, a dovecote, where Moorhead pigeons were kept. The concrete cubbies for the pigeons can still be seen inside. Next to it is a birdbath that was built with a slant so that birds could easily walk in.
These ponds, stone structures and gardens make Mayfield into a uniquely whimsical and tranquil park.
Past to Present
In 1971, Mary Mayfield Gutsch passed away, and in her will she gave her property to the City of Austin to be used as a park. Unfortunately, by the late 1980s, the park was in disrepair. Volunteers formed a council to work with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department to restore the land to its original glory. A fundraiser featuring lectures and a raffle called Trowel and Error takes place every year to raise money for upkeep and repairs to the park.
Tours of the grounds are available or you can peacefully explore on your own. I was fortunate enough to get a tour from volunteer and Mayfield Council member, Sharon Lamb. Sharon has been on the council for over 11 years, and she even has photographs of Mayfield Park from the ’70s when she visited with her mother. Passionate and caring people like Sharon have kept this historic park the way it was intended to be – a serene getaway that helps keep Austin beautiful.
Details for Your Visit
Mayfield Park is located at 3505 W 35th Street. It’s free and open daily. There’s a small, convenient parking lot, and gates are closed between 10 PM and 5 AM. Please do not bring any pets. Mayfield can be rented for small events. More information can be found at MayfieldPark.org.
Kelli McDonald is an artist and writer living with a surly, polydactyl cat named Moyra. If you want to see what Kelli’s up to, follow her on Instagram.
When was your last visit to Mayfield Park?