Historic Castle Heights Tour

Castle Heights has an unusually strong identity as a neighborhood. The construction of the earliest homes, circa 1888, lied outside Waco city limits, and when developers plotted the neighborhood in 1923, they expected it to serve as an elite residential area marketed to the professional and upper class. Castle Heights was an example of the early twentieth-century City Beautiful Movement, an urban planning philosophy that sought to link social issues to architectural design and encourage civic pride and engagement. The eclectic architectural styles of Castle Heights provide good examples of design from several different time periods, including Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Spanish Eclectic Revival, and Minimal Traditional homes. Following World War II, the neighborhood saw a large boom in construction of homes in the ranch style. Through over a decade of effort by neighborhood leaders, Castle Heights became Waco’s first historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The district included on the historical marker encompasses most of the area north of Austin Avenue from Thirty-Third Street to Thirty-Ninth Street, including Cottonland Castle, the 1890s Gothic stone structure on Austin Avenue that gave the neighborhood its name. Castle Heights remains one of the most sought-out neighborhoods in the city. Its well-preserved homes serve as physical evidence of twentieth-century architectural and urban design in Waco.

See some of Castle Heights and learn about some of its residents on this tour!

Waco Public Library

In the late nineteenth century, Waco became known as the “Athens of Texas” due to the several colleges and classical schools, eight newspapers, and scores of well-known politicians and writers located there. Despite this reputation for quality…

The Junior League of Waco

According to founding Junior League member Margaret Barclay Megarity, mid-twentieth-century service opportunities for young women in Waco were limited to society luncheons and church-sponsored activities primarily run by older women. Frustrated and…

Cottonland Castle

Near the turn of the twentieth century, a booming cotton industry was quickly establishing Waco as one of the major urban centers of the South, encouraging many residents to more readily invest and spend their money locally. In 1890, local stone…

Pauline Pipkin Garrett

Pauline Pipkin Garrett studied music at Baylor in the 1920s, but then the family business came a-calling. Under her leadership, W. P. Pipkin Drugs became one of the Southwest’s largest independently owned drugstore chains. After graduating from…

Castle Heights Neighborhood

In its early days in the 1920s, Castle Heights was just a grassy hill at the end of the streetcar line, with a clear view of the Amicable building downtown. The city of Waco has since grown miles beyond the hill, and oaks and magnolia trees have…

Mary Maxwell Armstrong

Mary Maxwell Armstrong’s intelligence, insight, and perseverance made her an influential figure in twentieth-century Waco. Her determination combined with her love for great literature aided in the establishment of a world-renowned library on Baylor…

O&H Rare Foods

During World War II, Waco provided a place of refuge and hope of starting anew for many seeking refuge from persecution, such as Otto and Hilde Levy. As tensions escalated throughout Germany as a result of Nazi discrimination, Otto Levy and Hilde…