Lost From Austin
originally appeared in June 1985 Third Coast Magazine
Most Austinites will not recognize these 32 buildings. Every one of them has been razed and removed to the county dump. In their places are ten parking lots, seven highrises, four apartment complexes, three government buildings, one hotel, one garage, one office, one church, one house, one park, one school, and one lot awaiting construction. Twenty-three were located in what is now downtown, five were in the university area, two were in East Austin, one in the south, and one in the west. An inestimable portion of Austin's architectural heritage has been lost. These buildings literally gave shape to the city's history. Their design and construction make today's mostly modern and postmodern urbanscape appear monotonous and frightful by comparison. Several of the architectural styles are no longer well-represented in Austin.
"The Austin Architest" is a monthly column written by Gordy Bowman in which Third Coast readers are asked to identify a curious detail of local architecture. In September 1984, Bowman presented his first "Super Architest," asking readers to identity a menage of existing downtown buildings. In this issue, Casey Monahan borrows Bowman's idea and steps backward. Call it "Super Architest, The Antecedent." The first three people to identify the buildings below will receive a year's subscription to Third Coast and a copy of Gone from Texas: Our Lost Architectural Heritage, by Willard Robinson. Special credit goes to anyone who includes the names of the original occupants and their four-digit phone numbers. Answers will be published next month.
Michael de Chaumés, a contractor for the first Texas State Capitol, built this Classic Revival home in 1854 at 202 East Ninth Street. It was sold to August Palm in 1857, then rented to Albert Sydney Johnson, who lived there until the start of the Civil War. The home was demolished in 1954, and the site was a playground, then a parking lot. It is now Commodore Plaza.
Francis Dieterich, one of the few survivors of the Battle of Goliad, returned to Austin in 1840 and built this cedar log cabin at 3401 Red River Street. In 1850, he built a two-story Classic Revival addition. "Sunnyridge", as its second owner, Lewis Hancock Sr. called the plantation, was razed in 1967 to make way for the 215-unit Century Square Apartments.
Work began in 1882 on the University of Texas Main Building, located on the "Practical Center" of the 40 acres. Abner Cook completed Frederick Ernst Ruffini's design later that year on the West Wing, Burt McDonald finished the Central portion in 1889, and the East Wing was completed in 1898. After receiving a Public Works Administration grant for a new Main Building in 1933, UT President Harry Yandell Benedict had this Victorian Gothic landmark razed against the wishes of many Texas Exes.
In 1929, St. Martin's Lutheran Church was built for $150,000 at 1400 Congress by Richard Schmidt from plans drawn by George L. Walling. The Gothic-style church stood until 1960, when it was razed for "Capitol Beautification". The site is now the lawn for the Texas Employment Commission building.
Clement Johns had this Romanesque/Victorian home built in 1874 at 704 Lavaca for $15,000. After his death, it was sold in 1899 for $9,100 to U.S. Rep. Albert Sydney Burleson, who later became Postmaster General for Woodrow Wilson. The building was demolished in 1951, and for 30 years afterward the site was a parking lot. In 1981, Texas Commerce Bank built its 15-story structure here.
The Norman Castellated Travis County Jail was built in 1875 on the southwest corner of East 11th Street and Brazos. Designed in part by Jacob Larmour,. the jail was used until 1932, when it and the jailer's house next door were razed to build the State Department of Highways building. The ring for the noose was still in place at the time of demolition.
Michael Butler, founder of the Butler Brick Company, commissioned Thomas Harding of Little Rock to design his home in 1887. Eclectic Victorian in style, it featured Moorish arches, glass imported from Europe, and one of the first electric lighting systems in an Austin home. It stood at 309 West 11th Street until 1971, when it was razed for a parking lot
The Farmers and Ginners Cotton Oil Company began using this 19th century brick structure in 1910. After they left in 1959, the building at 2012 East Sixth Street was used as a bed factory, a trash-service center, and, through 1983, artists' studios. Taken apart brick by brick early this year, the site awaits construction.
Swen Jaensson, known as Swante Palm, Swedish Consul to the Republic, built Austin's second consulate in 1841 at 109 West Ninth Street. The brick addition was completed in 1884. After the buildings were demolished, the site was used as a parking lot until the construction of the First City Centre.
This 20-room Victorian Italianate home was built in 1872 for Dr. M.A. Taylor at 1108 Guadalupe. After his death in 1909, his wife married Hinklin Hunnicutt. In 1925, the home was moved 90 feet to 405 West 12th Street in order to provide room for the Central Christian Church. The church returned the favor in March 1974 when they razed the structure for a parking lot. The Saturday-morning demolition precipitated the passage of Austin's Historic Landmark ordinance.
The architect of the Driskill Hotel, Jasper N. Preston, also designed Jesse W. Driskill's Victorian home at 2607 Whitis Avenue in 1883. Later sold to Episcopal bishop of Texas George Herbert Kinsolving, who lived there until his death on October 23, 1928. Before its demolition in 1955, it was used as a dormitory. The second Kinsolving Dormitory now sits on this site.
Former Texas Attorney General, ant-secessionist US representative and Texas Governor during Reconstruction Andrew Jackson Hamilton and his son Jack built this Italianate home in 1871 at 1124 Niles Road in East Austin. After a brief spell as a nursing home, the structure was demolished in 1972.
The Texas Confederate Home for Men sat on a 26-acre site at 1624 West Sixth Street. The Stick-style main building was completed in 1887 and used until 1964. After six years of abandonment, the rebel home was replaced by UT with the 200-unit Gateway Apartments. "In 1943 the legislature converted the Confederate Home for Men into a hospital for mentally ill male geriatric patients in order to provide beds in the larger hospitals."
The first synagogue in Austin, Temple Beth Israel, was a Romanesque Revival structure designed by A.M.C. Nixon from plans drawn by James Wahrenberger and Jacob Larmour. Built in 1884, the structure was razed in 1957. The 146-room Ramada In at 1101 San Jacinto now occupies this site.
The Swedish Evangelical Free Church, a Renaissance Revival structure at 1610 Colorado, was built in 1925. It served the congregation until 1962, when the State purchased the property to be used as a parking lot.
Monroe Ship built the Victorian-style Hyde Park Pavilion in 1892 just east of the pond dug the year before. The 60-by-132 structure could accommodate 200 people during "entertainments of a high grade." The W.R. Robbins School, 3909 Avenue B, now sits on this site.
John J. Houghton had James Wahrenberger design this Second Empire-style home to be built at 307 West 12th Street. Completed in 1876 by Charles Shurr, the home stood until 1973 when it was razed to make way for the Stokes Building parking garage.
Michael Butler owned one of the first homes south of the Colorado when his built this Victorian home close to his brick factory in 1883. After building his new home at 309 West 11th Street (no. 19), Michael cousin John J. Butler moved into the home. The Butler family later gave the property to the City of Austin, which razed the home in 1957. The site is now the location of Butler Shores, Zachary Scott Theatre Center, and Kash-Karry Grocery.
George Limberg built this Victorian residence in 1897 at 2000 University Avenue. Despite opposition by City staff, the owner moved it to Garfield. The site is now a parking lot.
The second First Baptist Church was built in 1916 on the northeast corner of 10th Street and Colorado. The Renaissance Revival-style church was used until 1970, when the church razed the structure and sold the land to the State of Texas for a parking lot.
And the walls came tumbling down. . .The June 24, 1954 razing of St. Mary's Academy (no. 6).
Edward Mandell House, an early fundraiser and advisor for Woodrow Wilson, FDR and numerous other state and national politicians, had Frank Freeman of Brooklyn, NY design this Shingle-style home at 1704 West Avenue in 1891. After decade of use by the Delta Zeta sorority, the home was abandoned in the early 1960s. The home was razed in 1966 after a suspected arson. The site, now used as a parking lot, is for sale. The wall remains.
The 1876 Travis County Courthouse was built ("putting the Capitol in the shade") for $100,000 by Burt McDonald from plans drawn by Jacob Larmour and Charles Wheelock. Located on the southeast corner of East 11th Street and Congress Avenue, it was Austin's finest example of Second Empire architecture. But in 1927, the distinctive cupolas had become a breeding ground for "bats, pigeons, vermin and insects," and were consequently removed. After construction of the present courthouse, the State named the building Walton and used it for offices. Walton was razed in 1964, and the site is currently a parking lot for state employees.
Austin's third passenger station, the Houston and Texas Central (later Mokan) was built in 1902 at 301 Congress Avenue. After its demolition in 1965, the site was used for a parking lot until 1984, when Trammell Crow Company began construction of the 301 Congress office building.
The AISD awarded the $48,079 contract to build the new Austin High School to Jacob Wattinger in 1900. Designed by Arthur Osburn Watson this Renaissance Revival structure at 400 East Fourth Street also served as Allen Junior High from 1925 until May 21, 1956, when it burned. Restoration exceeded AISD's budget, and in December its remains were razed. After 13 years as a parking lot, the site is now the third First Baptist Church.
Located at 609 Davis Street, this house was built in 1859 for Judge Amos Morrill. Eleven years later, Governor Edmund J. Davis moved here. As legend has it, he used the underground rooms to confine Confederate expatriates, and used the tunnels that led to the Colorado River and the Capitol as escape routes when he was threatened. Demolished in 1953, it was replaced by a one-story office building
Abner Cook built this Classic Revival home in 1851 for Dr. Samuel G. Haynie. Haynie returned the favor a few years later when he sold it back to Cook, who also built the Governor's Mansion next door. The home stood at 1104 Colorado until 1953, when it was razed for a parking lot. The Westgate Tower is located on a portion of Cook's former lot.
After selling his house at 2607 Whitis (no. 2), to Bishop Kinsolving, Jesse Driskill built another home across the street at 2610 Whitis in 1883. This Victorian-styles home was demolished in 1963 and replaced by a parking lot.
Austin's second passenger rail station, the International-Great Northern Railroad station was built in 1888 on the southwest corner of West Third Street and Congress Avenue. After several years of abandonment, the station was razed in 1955. A parking lot is now located on the site.
Construction of the Hancock Opera, 120 West Sixth Street, a Renaissance Revival structure designed by F.E. Ruffini, is thought to have started in 1880. George Hancock and his son, Lewis, completely remodeled the building in 1896 into Texas' premier opera facility. In 1935, it was again remodeled, this time into the Capitol Movie Theatre, which it remained until its demolition in 1968. After many years as a parking lot, the site is now covered by part of One American Center.
More photos of Austin past from the Austin History Center.
Photo credits: 1. Austin History Center (AHC) PICH 00482; 2. AHC PICH02934; 3. AHC PICH 02616; 4. AHC PICH 2412; 5. AHC PICH 02124; 6. AHC CO 1165; 7. AHC PICA 07735; 8. AHC CO 0826; 9. AHC CO 0826; 10. AHC CO 1129; 11. AHC CO 1281; 12. AHC PICA 021296; 13. AHC PICH 92000; 14. CO 1277; 15. AHC CO 3708; 16. AHC CO 2377; 17. AHC CO 1092; 18. AHC CO 1472; 19. Molly Juvenal; 20. Molly Juvenal; 21 AHC PICH 05000; 22. Casey Monahan; 23. AHC PICH 04132; 24. AHC PICH 02939; AHC PICH 02619; 26. AHC PICH 02876; 27. AHC CO 00174; 28. AHC PICH 0534; 29. AHC PICA 04427; 30. AHC CO 0134; 31. Blake Alexander; 32. AHC PICA 05954
Special thanks to Sharmyn Lumsden and the rest of the Austin History Center staff. The AHC, the main physical repository of the history of our city, welcomes materials that document the people, events, environment, and everyday life of Austin and Travis County. Submissions should be made in person at the old library building at West Ninth and Guadalupe.
Alexander, Drury Blakeley. Texas Homes of the Nineteenth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1966.
Hafertepe, Kenneth. Abner Cook: Master Builder on the Texas Frontier. Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1992.
Robinson, Willard E. Texas Public Buildings of the Nineteenth Century. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1974.
Speck, Lawrence. Landmarks of Texas Architecture. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1986.
Smith, Hank Todd, ed., Austin, Its Architects and Architecture. Austin Chapter, American Institute of Architects, 1986.
Williamson, Roxanne. Victorian Architecture in Texas. M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1967.
Williamson, Roxanne. Austin, Texas: An American Architectural History. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1973.