Tours by appointment only. Contact Melody Byrd: [email protected], (512) 477-5588
Located at 81 San Marcos Street, The First Church of the Nazarene, is significant to the city of Austin due to its historical association with the growth of the Nazarene denomination in Austin, and its community value and impact on the development of the historic Willow-Spence neighborhood. Its period of significance spans from 1916, when the church was built, to the present progressive populist hub it is today. In 1914, the first Church of the Nazarene formed in Austin, Texas. The denomination combined “evangelism, compassionate ministry, and education” in an effort to serve a wide, multicultural audience. The congregation was progressive and inclusive from its beginning, advertising its female evangelical preachers.
The Church was home to different congregations:
- 1916-1950 First Church of the Nazarene
- 1950-1986 East Second Street Church of Christ & San Marcos Street Church of Christ
- 1986-1992 Church of Christ: Iglesia De Cristo Church of Christ (Spanish Services)
- 1999-2005 Grace Ministries and Kingdom Seekers in Christ Jesus (First brick and mortar LGBTQ church in Austin)
In 2005, former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, and America’s #1 Progressive Populist Jim Hightower purchased the property under the name HAPI (Hightower Abate Properties, Inc.). Hightower’s company, Saddle-Burr Productions was the first business to move into 81 San Marcos. Hightower produced his monthly newsletter The Hightower Lowdown along with his weekly radio and newspaper commentaries in the sanctuary of the old church. The fellowship was used as a photography studio and galley. Cine Las Americas rented the remainder of the building to produce their international film festival. The Property has since been home to many writers, artists, film makers, Labor Unions and other non-profit organizations. From the Nazarene parish in 1915 to present day HAPI, the individuals and organizations making the property home have always worked to serve the innovative and diverse populations of Austin and beyond.