Originally built in the 1870s

905 Congress has been adapted to many uses over the last century. A shoe store, an ice cream parlor, and the editorial offices of the Austin Daily Statesman newspaper are just some of the businesses formerly operating out of this historic building. Since acquiring 905 Congress in 2002, Nelsen Partners has been headquartered in this iconic building - the smallest Art Deco development on Congress Avenue. Today, we celebrate 905’s official Historic Landmark Designation, which identifies this building as a significant piece of Austin’s history and culture. We are proud to be part of this preservation and the building’s ongoing contribution to the downtown urban landscape.
Since making 905 Congress our headquarters in Austin almost 20 years ago, we recognized opportunities where we might better showcase 905’s original character from the inside-out. 2020 gave us the rare opportunity to accomplish a major interior renovation to help realize the building’s full potential, as well as highlight some of the original design elements. Much thought and detail went into the new design, which features an open layout for optimized collaboration. All new lighting, MEP and modern furnishings are balanced against historic elements that were revealed during demolition. Uncovered windows, steel beams, wall paper and floors are now exposed as key features in the design. With all the updates and modernizations, our new studio’s future is ensured for the next 100 years.

Other Facts

  • 905 Congress officially designated as a Historic Landmark in 2020
  • At 7,264 square feet, 905 is the Smallest Art Deco Building on Congress Ave
  • Originally called the "Mutual Building"
  • The Art Deco features were added as part of the remodel of an 1870s storefront in 1930
  • Former editorial offices of the Austin Daily Statesman newspaper (1900)
  • Manhattan Deli Cafe operated at 905 Congress from 1952-1957

Historic Images

Our iconic Deco detailed cream-white limestone façade at 905 was designed by a famous Austinite-architect and city planner Hugo Kuehne (1884-1963). Kuehne was well trained in the tradition of the École des Beaux-Arts; one of the most influential art schools in France (Beaux Arts style was modeled on classical "antiquities" preserving these idealized forms and passing the style on to future generations.) He served as an adjunct professor at the University of Texas (1910-1915) before entering private practice, retiring later in 1961.

Kuehne's most noted works are the former Austin Public Library (now the Austin History Center). Other commercial projects in Austin include the Bohn Brothers Building (1929), the Ritz Theater (1929), the Steck Building (1932), the Commodore Perry Hotel (1950), the International Life Building (1952), the American National Bank and the Texas Department of Public Safety Building (1952).

In 1944 he was named an AIA Fellow in honor of outstanding achievements and awarded a life membership of the American Society of Planning Officials. The City of Austin named him "Austin's Most Worthy Citizen" (1954) by the Austin Real Estate Board and received a tribute from the Austin City Council.

by Raoul Hashimoto

The Kuehne façade consists of a pair of fluted pilasters, one on each side of the recessed central entry. Four vertical panels above the entry feature stylized floral bas-relief; the panels graduate down in size from a central panel containing geometric chevron motifs. The base of the parapet is delineated by a horizontal band of stylized waves.
— City of Austin Historic Landmark Commission

"The Mutual Building" Illustration / September 5, 1940 Copyright Austin History Center

In 1952, The Mutual Deposit and Loan Company relocated to 1005 Congress Ave, making way for the Manhattan Restaurant for the next 5 years. Next, from 1961 to 1980, the Household Finance Corporation of Dallas officed at 905, completing a renovation that included adding a steel canopy over the front entrance and replacing the large glass-block window on the front façade with a picture window.

Upon acquiring the building in 2002, Nelsen Partners undertook a small renovation prior to moving into its new headquarters. Now, in the latest renovation, we have embraced the “Deco” aesthetic both inside and out by preserving the outermost structural details and ornamental elements that will give us a true architectural reminder every single day. And almost 20 years later, 905 Congress has received a historic designation helping to preserve the authenticity of this iconic building for years to come.

The renovation

Check out a sneak peek of our newest offices at 905 Congress. More images to be released soon, stay tuned!

Studio Space / After (2021)

Studio Space / Before