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Butler House
Photo: Butler House
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309 West 11th Street,
on the corner of West 11th
and Guadalupe
built: 1887
demolished: December 1971
Replaced by: Parking Lot

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Photo: Michael and Mary Jane Butler
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Michael Butler established the Butler Brick Company in 1873. Fifteen years later this successful entrepreneur commissioned Little Rock architect Thomas Harding to design a grand new house for him. The Butler House exemplified "the bombastic, self-confident, wonderfully exuberant homes of the city's financial leaders, men bursting with self-righteous pride at their success, and seeking its expression in their dwelling places." Austin, Texas: An American Architectural History, by Roxanne Kuter Williamson. San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1973, p. 105

Like most of the other Victorian houses in Austin, the fabric of the house literally reflected its origins. Its bricks, including that for the 13-inch walls, were made at Butler's plant on the south side of the Colorado River. Granite used for the trimming was included in the shipments destined for the new state capitol. Its Gothic influence, so admired by Victorians, "is reflected in its turrets - some round, some angular - and in the carved terra cotta gargoyles, which lend a quaint, castle-like charm." Inside a visitor was greeted by a "handsome reception hall with its tall, curving stairway. Unusual wainscoting and trim here is of black, ornately carved lincrusta." Austin American-Statesman, May 24, 1964, p. D10

Photo: Interior of Butler home
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Despite being well recognized in the 1960s for the significance of its history and architecture and having received a Texas Historical Medallion, it would be less than ten years before the house would be demolished. In 1966, it was purchased by bail bondsman Richard Hodges who rented it out to an antiques dealer. Finally, in 1971 it was sold to Louis B. Marks who said the house was "falling apart" and was a "burden on the taxpayers." Austin Statesman, June 24, 1971

Photo: Demolition of Butler House
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Perhaps because it was the first of the three example houses to go, it seemed to fall without much public protest, its demise generally accepted as so many were that went down before it. The Heritage Society of Austin tried in vain to find a private individual to move the house. Wreckers began demolition the week of October 28, 1971. A parking lot became its replacement.

Dismembered fragments of the Butler House are scattered throughout Austin. The Moorish-style arch from the main doorway sprouts from the grounds of the Zilker Garden Center with an historic marker for explanation. Part of its Victorian wooden porch detailing rests incongruously on the fašade of the much simpler house at 1112 West 6th Street. Bricks from the interior were used in a house at 6405 Mesa. Bricks, stairway and the like were added to a house at 500 West 13th Street.


Photo: Demolition of Butler House Photo: Parking lot on the site of former Butler House
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