Guest article by Cris Mueller
Austin’s long-standing reputation for weird serves as the perfect stage for the annual Weird Homes Tour. The tour is a showcase of 10 select homes, and your chance to stop just peeking through the blinds. With your ticket, you are invited inside for a personal tour and opportunity to chat with the owners of some of the Bat City’s most creative and unique homes.
How Weird Are We Talking?
The tour, founded in 2014 by Chelle and David J. Neff, is entering its fourth season of self-guided driving to the crafty abodes created by Austin residents. The event is more than four walls and wood floors. Imagine eccentric collections of historical relicts and memorabilia like you will see at Riggins’ Cabinet of Curiosities. A 2016 and 2017 staff favorite, this was Tim Riggins’ home in the TV series, Friday Night Lights. Owners Michael and Cathy are full of curious stories, so get cozy in the dental chair and be sure to ask about the blood spatter décor.
Like the dwellings it puts on display, Weird Homes Tour has deeper value than what’s on the surface. The Neffs founded the event as a social impact start-up. Their intentions were simple: give back where you can; provide for the community you live in; and invest in ideas you believe in.
The lack of affordable housing fell at the forefront of their vision, and that’s where Weird Homes Tour was born. The tour was a way to give back while involving Austinites who have a sense of responsibility, and a flair for weird and unique homes. For one day, we get a glimpse of the creative habitats that form a literal and figurative foundation for local artists, performers, and architectural inventors.
History of Weird
Four years and endless household novelties have created quite the picture book for Weird Homes Tour. I asked the team to shed light on their past favorites and fan favorites. Here’s what we came up with…
Casa Neverlandia, the Bouldin Creek home of artist James Edward Talbot, was a top pick for Event Manager Kevin Shaw in 2014, and made a comeback on the list as the Neffs’ 2016 favorite. Another two-time favorite is the Eponymous Garden home. A staff hotspot for 2017 is the Ebba Springs Wildlife Reserve, a Cuernavaca neighborhood gem which incorporates wildlife into nearly every aspect of the home owned by Sam and Barbara Attwell Ritter.
Past fan favorites give a nod to the weird in the tour’s name, recognizing the unusual and crafty nature of Austin’s keeping it weird history. And in true Austin fashion, Weird Homes Tour fans enjoy projects that are good for the community:
- 2014 Favorite – The Dumpster Project was an idea formulated by members at Huston-Tillotson University, brought to fame by Dr. Jeff Wilson who is now fondly referred to as Professor Dumpster.
- 2015 Favorite – The EARTHBAG house is a two-bedroom residence built from burlap, reminiscent of adobe structures. Earthbags are filled with locally-sourced dirt and stacked with skill to ensure the structure outlasts the elements.
- 2016 Favorite – Florence’s Comfort House is an East Austin home that lends support and acceptance to kids in the community.
Weird Homes Tour First-timer Tips
If this is your first time taking the tour, here are some facts to get you started. Weird Homes Tour will take place on April 22, 2017, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets for the self-guided tour are $30, which covers your invitation to walk through each of the ten homes, or $45 if you choose to attend the VIP party following the tour (6-9 p.m.).
You can start your tour at any of the homes, where you will check in with a volunteer, and collect your wristband and booklet. That done, the day is yours to leisurely tour the homes, visit with the owners, and drive from one home to the next at your own pace. Homes are located across the Austin metro area, and the tour is family-friendly. Children 13 and under take the tour for free.
Ten percent of total ticket sales are donated to Foundation Communities Affordable Housing program, which provides for Austinites seeking affordable housing, including services in education, financial stability, and health.
If you want to see Weird Homes Tour in a new environment, you can experience the tour on the road this year in both Houston and New Orleans. Check the event website for more details.
You can win a pair of tickets to this weekend’s tour by subscribing to our email newsletter. Our giveaway issue goes out Thursday afternoon, April 20.
@theAustinot wants to know:
What is the weirdest home you’ve ever seen?
Easily tempted by a full plate of food, Cris Mueller strikes up conversations across the country. Tasting and exploring her way across the miles, captivated by the edible landscapes provided through her travels, this nomad has made Austin home…for now.