Southwest Telegraph and Telephone Company Building
Local historian and longtime public official, Frank Brown (1833-1913), built this brick structure in 1886. Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Company bought and renovated the building in 1898. The company hired Austin architect A. O. Watson to design the ornate facade that continues to face Congress Avenue. Frank Brown, the public servant who built the original brick building, later went on the write the first major history of Austin. He completed the building at a time when Austin was enjoying a construction boom resulting from the arrival of the railroad. The growth of Austin in these years, along with its central location, helped the city secure its position as the state capital and the home to the University of Texas.
Backstory and Context
A. O. Watson practiced architecture in Austin in partnership with Jacob Larmour before starting a private firm in the 1890s. Watson also designed several prominent structures in Austin, including the classic revival addition to the State Hospital, the Austin High School Building, and the Congregational Church. He created the beautiful Romanesque Revival facade that faces Congress, a feature that remains today.
Fleming, Julee. "Nomination Form: Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone Building." National Register of Historic Places. nps.gov. August, 1977. Digital copy located at https://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/NR/pdfs/78002993/78002993.pdf.
Winders, Richard Bruce. Crisis in the Southwest: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle over Texas. Lanham, MD: Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.
Full Building Picture and Historical Marker are found at https://texashistoricalmarkers.weebly.com/southwestern-telegraph--telephone-building.html.
Picture of Southwestern Telegraph and Telephone name (engraved in the facade) can be found at http://staging.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMMXJ9_Southwestern_Telegraph_and_Telephone_Building_Austin_Texas