Project Playback: Mayfield Preserves History

Mayfield Park and Preserve is well-known for the flock of peacocks that call its lush gardens home. But this 23-acre gem also has deep roots in Austin’s history. The wooded-estate was given to the City of Austin in 1971 by Mary Mayfield Gutsch, whose father, Allison Mayfield, was a prominent Texas political figure in the 1890s through the 1920s. The park’s handmade rock wall is one of the most prominent historical structures on the property – and one of the defining features that is specifically referenced in the park’s National Historic Register narrative.

Dr. Gutsch (husband to Mary Mayfield Gutsch) and his gardener, Steve Arredondo, laid the original stone work in 1932. That these gentlemen were more hobbyists rather than professional masons is evident in the recurring, and perhaps serendipitous, wave style of the wall, and the deterioration of the walls’ structural mortar. It was this deterioration that had the members of the Mayfield Park Community Project (MPCP) concerned, both for the wall’s historical significance and the safety of park visitors.

MPCP applied for, and was granted, over $22,000 in ACL Music Festival Community Grant funds to aid in the repair of this important Austin landmark. With a cash match of $16,500 raised by MPCP, the group was able to hire professional masons to repair failing areas of the wall, as well as install support beams underneath the stone work of the entry walls to preserve them for future generations.

“Hearing the masons who have worked on courthouses across Texas and most recently on the Alamo in San Antonio tell me how much they have enjoyed working on the project and how much they have come to love the park itself

[has been particularly memorable].” said Blake Tollet, member of MPCP and primary grant applicant for this project. “Mayfield is a very special place.”

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Project Playback is a series devoted to the park improvements that APF funds through our ACL Music Festival Grants program as well as other special projects that we support through fundraising, grants and partnership opportunities. Header photo courtesy Austin Woman Magazine, before and after photos courtesy Mayfield Park Community Project.