The T-plan differs from the plethora of box-shaped homes built during the era, but it also enjoys less ornate features. The one-story, wood-frame, T-plan Victorian structure combines simple elegance with pragmatism. For instance, its wide porch, supported by three columns, not only serves as an attractive feature, but also adds to the already 3,500-plus square feet of living space in the Irvin House. The T-Plan also requires an expansive roof. Sitting atop the roof is a large, finely detailed brick chimney, centered on the intersection of the two gable ridges, and a less elaborate brick flue (probably associated with the kitchen) located at the rear of the T-section.
Austin population growth slowed during the Civil War, but the arrival of the railroads during the 1870s (along with gaining the rights to become the state capital and home city to the University of Texas) fostered a renewed population boom. With railways located in East Austin, the once-sparsely populated area of Austin suddenly transformed into a popular spot for residents. The Robertson Hill neighborhood, named for the Robertson family who sold many of its lots in the area, exists as the location for which Robert Irvin settled during the 1880s.