The Story of the Shipe Log Cabin

Everyone is eager for construction to begin on Shipe’s new pools and bathhouse.  Despite some delays related to design adjustments and the permitting process, groundbreaking is still planned for late fall.  The Friends of Shipe Park (FOSP) will provide a detailed timeline for construction as soon as we have the final information from the project managers.

Meanwhile, FOSP is gearing up for a fund raising campaign to completely restore the historic log cabin.  Although the cabin will be outfitted with new ADA accessible bathrooms, the budget for the pool renovation will not cover much-need repair of the cabin’s exterior, especially the roof.  We would sure hate to see our poor neglected cabin sitting there surrounded by the new fantastic pool complex.  To begin our neighborhood conversation of how to restore the cabin, FOSP wanted to share some of the cabin’s history with you.  This information is taken from a thorough assessment of the structure that was prepared by Limbacher and Godfrey Architects, who were part of the design team for the new pool.

The development of Shipe Park began in 1928 as part of a city-wide parks beautification program funded by a large public works bond issue.  Within a few months of the bond election, the City Council authorized the purchase of the land from Monroe Shipe at a cost of $6,500.

Hugo Kuehne, vice chairman of the newly established Parks Board, was among those who took an active role in the design and development of the park. Kuehne founded the School of Architecture at the University of Texas in 1910, and served as a professor until 1915. He continued to practice architecture in Austin until 1961, and designed a wide range of notable residential, commercial, and public buildings including other “shelter houses” at Little Stacy, Pease, Eastwoods, and West Austin Parks.  The design of these shelter houses is attributed to Kuehne, based on photographs of them, including the one shown here in his personal files, now archived at the Austin History Center.

The shelter house at Shipe is different from others because of its rustic cedar log exterior, perhaps inspired by log cabin that existed on Avenue G at the time of the park’s construction. The two pens of the “dog trot” log cabin flank a central breezeway, which was intended to be used for play and performances. These community activities continue today, with piñatas hung from the rafters and picnic tables arranged for birthday parties, as well as the breezeway serving as a stage for live music at It’s My Park Day events.

The log cabin was built in 1930 and was the first of several structures built for play and recreation at Shipe Park. The Recreation Department held organized play programs during the summer months. The adjacent wading pool was opened at the site in 1932 or 1933.

The park’s swimming pool was built in 1934, using $1,500 of materials and equipment provided by the City of Austin. Labor was provided through the Civil Works Administration, or CWA, one of many relief-era programs available to Austin at the time. The pool was opened on May 15, 1934, making it one of the oldest neighborhood pools in Austin.

The major issues at the Shipe Park log cabin are related to structural degradation of the roof framing, and related deterioration of the wood shingle roof and decking.   The log walls show some deterioration due to possible insect boring activity, and to rodent damage. The chinking material between the logs is uneven or missing, and needs to be replaced using uniform material according to historic preservation guidelines.

Despite many years of “deferred maintenance” – one of many unfortunate outcomes of an underfunded parks department – the Shipe Log cabin is a remarkable and beloved structure unique to the park, and it’s important to preserve and maintain it for future use.

Want to learn more and get involved?  Stay up-to-date on this site and on the Friends of Shipe Park FaceBook page or email Jill Nokes with questions and ideas.

By Jill Nokes

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Ball Moss Removed from Heritage Oaks

By Jill Nokes

Loving our trees! Thanks to an urban forestry grant provided through the COA’s arborist’s office, Friends of Shipe Park hired Just Trees arborists last month to remove 90% of the ball moss that was smothering the oaks surrounding the playscape, as well as the two massive heritage oaks that frame the cabin.


Ball moss is an epiphyte or “air plant” member of the bromeliad or pineapple family.  Ball moss is an organism that scarcely roots, but grows upon other plants, without being parasitic upon them, in order to be in a better position to secure light. They cling to branches and have adapted to obtain and store water and to catch drifting nutrients that cluster around their base, since they never actually touch soil.

A little ball moss does not harm a tree, but if it begins to dominate the branches, it can contribute to a gradual weakening by preventing new secondary branches and leaves to grow, thus impacting the tree’s ability to sustain itself through photosynthesis.  Combine the stress that comes with ball moss with other factors such as drought and soil compaction (from all the little feet running around the playground), and you can see how our precious oak trees were suffering.

At the next It’s My Park’s Day to be held in November, we will mulch these trees again to help them recover and get back in good shape, providing much needed shade and cover for the park.

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Shipe Park Improvements Coming Soon!


There is some short term bad news at Shipe Park: because of the critical problems with the pool pump, plumbing, and active leaks in the pool system (the city estimates it would cost $100,000 to repair the systems at Shipe in order to operate the pools this summer), Shipe pools will not be opened this summer season. Although that is disappointing, there are a number of substantial improvement projects in the works that will be a benefit to our neighborhood going forward.

It’s important to note that the improvement projects at Shipe Park need your support and engagement. Caring for our public spaces is always a partnership between the city and the community – events like It’s My Park Day where neighborhood volunteers work together with city staff to further improvement efforts are a testament to the potential of such partnerships. This kind of broad involvement and support is required to maintain and improve what is wonderful about Shipe Park!

Will will also need substantial financial support from neighbors to make these projects possible. These fundraising efforts may take the form of matching challenges, events, and/or other fundraising efforts. Stay engaged and stay tuned as we continue to create the plan needed to make these projects a reality!

The key projects coming up include…

Summer 2017:

Ball Moss Removal: Ball moss will be removed from the ancient post oak trees. This is critical to ensure the continued health and life of our cherished legacy trees in the park!

Fall 2017:

Removal of a Substantial Dying Tree: The Post Oak that is just north of the log cabin and just west of the existing pool enclosure will be removed. Sadly, it has a disease that has rotted the core of the tree trunk, and it is in danger of falling.

New Pool Construction Begins: The city will demo the existing big pool and kiddie pool and begin site work to prepare for the installation of the new pools. View the details of the pool replacement project here.


Move Large Swings: The city will be moving the existing large swings (the ones north of the existing kiddie pool) because they are causing damage to the canopy of the established Post Oak tree nearby. A new swing set will be installed in the area currently inhabited by the kiddie pool.

Create New Picnic Area and Add Ping Pong Table: In the former large swing area, a new picnic area will be created. The area will be created with a base of mulch, and it will have new picnic tables, benches, and a permanent ping pong table!

Spring 2018: 

Log Cabin Renovation: Friends of Shipe Park and the City of Austin are seeking funding to repair the sagging roof of the historic log cabin and to do the needed re-chinking of the log cabin walls. As part of the new pool project, the bathrooms in the log cabin will be renovated and brought up to code. All of these efforts are critical to the long-term health of this historic structure.

June 2018:

New Shipe Pool Opens: The new and improved pools will be completed in time for the start of the summer 2018 pool season which usually begins soon after schools let out for Summer Break.

Shipe Pool Party: Our annual celebration of summertime at Shipe Park will resume with the new pools as the featured highlight. Specific date TBD.

2020: Replacement and Upgrade of Playscape Area: The city is planning to remove the exist playscape equipment, fencing, and ground cover material and replace them with updated resources. This will be part of a city-wide effort to upgrade aging park playgrounds.

Stay tuned on this website and on the Friends of Shipe Park FaceBook page to stay up-to-date on the city’s work, our park improvement projects, and fundraising efforts that will be critical to their success. Thank you for your love and care of Shipe Park, our cherished neighborhood park and community gathering place!

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It’s My Park Day 2017


It’s My Park Day at Shipe Park is one short month from today! Mark your calendar now. Volunteer registration opens soon.

Thanks to the amazing Clif Wright for our graphic design!

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Shipe Park Thanks You!

From all of us at Friends of Shipe Park, thank you for coming to the 8th Annual Shipe Pool Party and making it such a fantastic summer community gathering! At the height of the event, we estimated 400 people in attendance which is pretty remarkable! It’s also a great representation of the way this community loves our shared public space.
IMG_3070.JPGFor many neighbors, Shipe Park is the center of our community, the place where our lives intersect with one another, the place our children grow up together. Our annual pool party is always a reminder of how these shared spaces are so critical to the sense of community we have in Central Austin!
So sorry that movie was an epic fail last night. The movie company had some equipment failure, and we had to cancel at that last minute. We do plan to reschedule a movie in the field for another night in the future so stay tuned for a new date.
We couldn’t pull this event off without the support of our sponsors:
And special thanks to the City of Austin Aquatics and Parks Department – their ongoing work keeps the park and park facilities a wonderful place for all of us! We are looking forward to a partnership with the city staff required to keep Shipe Park and Pools accessible, functional, and beautiful for all.
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June 18th: 2016 Shipe Pool and Movie Party

Swim, Picnic and Watch a Movie Under the Stars at Shipe Pool


Come celebrate with your neighbors the arrival of summer and the opening of Shipe Pool!

The Eighth Annual Shipe Pool Party and Movie Night will start at 7pm, Saturday, June 18th in Shipe Park, 4400 Avenue G. Presented by Friends of Shipe Park, the party will include live music by the Lost and Nameless Orchestra, Zippy the Clown, and food vendors with food for kids and adults. (Remember to bring money if you plan to buy food.) This year the movie will be Babe, which will begin at dusk –about 8:55pm — and end at 10:45. You will also be able to learn about plans for the pool’s renovation, scheduled for 2018.

Picnic and swim under the stars!! There will be extended swimming hours until 9pm. Music will begin at 7pm. The sponsor of the movie is Grande Communications; Hyde Park Neighborhood association is sponsoring the live music. It will be a great evening for inaugurating a new season at our beloved pool. Join the fun!

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Shipe Pool Redesign Meeting

Want to be able to dive in the deep end? Do you have ideas for a seating areas and landscaping? Should the kiddie pool be adjacent to the big pool? The next Shipe Pool Design meeting is set for Monday, May 16th, 6:30-8pm at the Hancock Rec Center (811 E 41st St, Austin, TX 78751). Be there to see the possible designs for the new pool facilities and to give your input. This will be a super important meeting and probably your last chance to have input into the design process. Be there and be heard!Shipe Pool Redesign Meeting.jpg

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