West Lake Hills
Westlake Hills covers roughly four square miles and is bounded by the east by Mo-pac Expressway and Rollingwood, by the north by Lake Austin , by Bee Caves Road to the south and west by Loop 360. Originally populated by Tonkawa and Comanche Indians, the hills of Westlake were looked upon as a wild and dangerous place by 1800’s Austin settlers. Westlake Hills remained separated from Austin by the Colorado river until the 1930’s. Passage to from Austin to Westlake was not by land, but by ferry or fording as reflected in the name Commons Ford Road, just west of Westlake Hills.
A few pioneering families settled in Westlake Hills after the civil war. The Eanes family occupied a large tract of land in central Westlake. Their original Eanes-Marshall ranch house was relocated to Eanes Elementary School as was the Johnson Wagon barn and a few other original 1800’s Westlake Hills family structures. In the late 1800’s, Cal Roy owned a 4000 acre tract of land which was passed on to his sons and daughters, Rob Roy, Addie Roy and Jessie Roy. The original Roy family house still stands in the Addie Roy subdivision just West of Westlake Hills.
Throughout the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, travel through Westlake Hills was a bumpy carriage ride down rough, caliche Bee Caves Road, through dense cedar brakes . Many miles up the road was a watering hole near Commons Ford Ranch. Bee Caves Road ended at the town of Bee Cave , as it still does today.
At the turn of the century, “cedar choppers” moved to Westlake Hills to harvest cedar building materials for the ever-burgeoning Austin metropolitan area. The Eanes “old rock school house” , built in 1937, employed teachers who frequently complained (even to the point of carrying pistols) of the rowdy cedar-chopper children forced to attend school with the original Eanes’ area descendants.
The city of West Lake Hills was founded and incorporated as a village on September 9, 1953. Emmet Shelton Sr. was the original , colorful developer of Westlake Hills. He bought much of the land from cedar choppers who “squatted” on different tracks of land. The nomadic cedar choppers would sign quit-claims for the “worthless land” after it had been cleared and they were ready to move on. The bridge crossing at Red Bud Trail was named in honor of Emmett Shelton after his death in 2000.
True to its reputation for being untamed, Westlake in the 60’s and 70’s saw an infusion of liberals and free thinkers. Westlake Hills was home to musician Willie Nelson, politicos Ann Richards and Liz Carpenter, broadcaster Cactus Pryor, writers Bud Shrake and Gary Cartwright and sculptor Ishmael Soto, in addition to many U.T Professors and their children. From 1973-1979, Soap Creek Saloon , a contemporary of The Armadillo World Headquarter, was located off Walsh Tarleton Road over pot-holed, unpaved caliche about a block north of Hill Country Middle School. Stevie Ray Vaughn and the Cobras played every Tuesday night at Soap Creek for a tips.
Westlake Hills, between the Bee Caves Road, Rollingwood , Loop 360, and Lake Austin, is made up of mid-century modern, ranch style and assorted newer estate-style homes. School children from “old Westlake” attend either Eanes Elementary or Bridgepoint Elementary. Bridgepoint Elementary is just west of Loop 360. Children from this area also attend Hill Country Middle School and Westlake High School. All EISD schools are Blue Ribbon schools. Westlake High School has repeatedly been designated one of the top 100 high schools in the US by US News and World Report.
The Westlake Hills Police Station and Court house are located on Westlake Drive. There are many unincorporated areas in Westlake Hills which are in Travis County but NOT in Westlake Hills. All of these areas are in the EISD school district , but taxing authority and city services vary. Westlake High School , for example, in an unincorporated part of Travis County area and is policed by Travis County Sherrif’s Deparment, not by the Westlake Police force.