Old Bakery & Emporium: Local Austin Gifts Just Steps Away from the Texas State Capital

Don’t expect fresh baked croissants at the Old Bakery and Emporium. Instead you will discover an historical building run by the City of Austin that combines a gift store full of unique local arts and crafts with a history museum and visitor center.
  • No baked goods here, only local Austin gifts
  • Handmade items from local artisans over age 50

  • History museum and fine arts gallery

  • Austin Visitor Center with brochures and recommendations

  • Soon to feature large scale mural on south side of building
  • 1006 Congress Avenue

  • (512) 974-1300

  • austintexas.gov/department/old-bakery-and-emporium

Located half a block from the Capitol building, the Old Bakery and Emporium is the perfect stop before or after a tour of the Texas State Capitol. Besides serving as a visitor center with more information on what to do and what to see in Austin, it is filled with handmade souvenirs, art and home decor made by local Austin artisans over the age of 50. It also serves as a fine art gallery with its old stone walls providing a dramatic backdrop to rotating exhibits by local Austin artists.

In January of 2023, the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department and the Downtown Austin Alliance announced a joint project to revitalize the small park adjacent to the Old Bakery. The park will feature a new mural on the south side of the building. 

The Old Bakery and Emporium gift shop features a range of products made by local artisans and craftsmen over the age of fifty. Jewelry, ceramics, quilts, original artwork and woodcraft are just some of the items available as unique souvenirs of Austin. 

The art gallery at the Old Bakery displays curated exhibits that celebrate Austin’s rich artistic and cultural diversity. The intention of the art exhibits are to educate and inspire. The art shows include artwork of all mediums and the artists come from all walks of life.

The Old Bakery and Emporium gift shop is more than just a place to shop; it’s also a destination for those looking to learn more about Austin and its history. The store is located in a historic building that dates back to 1876 when Swedish baker Charles Lundberg opened his bakery near the Texas Capitol. Constructed of limestone with a brick facade, the building features a large cast-iron eagle at the peak of a gabled roof overlooking Congress Avenue.

The building functioned as a bakery for the next 60 years before the building eventually fell into neglect. It was purchased and refurbished by the Austin Heritage Society in 1962 and through their efforts, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. The Old Bakery & Emporium opened as a senior and volunteer project of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department in October of 1976. The Old Bakery building is now owned by the City of Austin. 

When Charles Lundberg opened his bakery, bread was not sold sliced or wrapped in a package. Austinites of the times, mostly maids and children, would wait in line with cloth lined baskets to take home loaves of bread hot from the oven. The specialties at the Lundberg Bakery were sponge cake, ladyfingers, glazed kisses and almond-meal macaroons. The incredibly large original oven from the Old Bakery can be seen on the second floor, along with a long wooden paddle used to place and pull out the loaves from the oven. 

One famous frequent patron of the Lundberg Bakery was the short story writer William Sydney Porter, otherwise known as O. Henry. At the time, Porter was employed by the Texas General Land Office and passed the bakery as he went to and home from work. O. Henry is known for his short stories “The Gift of the Magi” and “The Ransom of Red Chief.” The years spent by Porter in Austin were a significant influence on his later writing.

Trivia about famous historical Austin citizens is the kind of information you can get from the welcoming staff at the Old Bakery. The Old Bakery is a visitor center for the City of Austin and is a great place to ask questions about Austin. The Old Bakery is also a source of brochures about tours and other interesting places to visit in Austin. 

If you’re looking for a unique and locally-made Austin gift, or just want to learn more about Austin and its history, a visit to the Old Bakery and Emporium is well worth your time. You will find a wide variety of locally-made products, as well as a friendly staff who are ready to help you find the perfect gift or give you recommendations on things to do in Austin.