Texas Heritage, Spring 1984

PRESERATION

In most communities throughout Texas one
can observe many different styles of architecture:
from large buildings for business and civic functions
to beautiful residential neighborhoods. In
some fortunate cities this architectural richness
has been accumulating for more than a century,
giving each neighborhood its own character and
uniqueness. Yet works of architecture seldom have
any guarantee of immortality. Unless specially
protected, a building may be razed whenever the
real estate market suggests demolition. Without
contemporary purposes or adaptive uses, historic
structures and neighborhoods can loose the
evidence of their history.
Austin, our Capital city, is working hard to
preserve its historic assets downtown along Con

gress Avenue and on 6th Street. Two corporations,
Trammell Crow Company and Franklin
Savings Association, are contributing to this
restoration effort, and both of these corporate citizens
were recipients of Texas Historical Foundation
Awards presented at the last annual meeting
in June.
The Josiah Wheat Award of Merit, for outstanding
achievement in historical preservation
for business and industry, was presented to Sanford
Gottesman of Trammell Crow Company for
the construction of the Grant Plaza on 6th street,
and for the restoration of the McKean-Eilers
Building, the Day Building, the Swift Building,
and the W.B. Smith Building, located on Congress
Avenue. "With historic restoration you have

a unique opportunity to address the individual
character of each building, to create a very unique
statement that might not be possible with a new
structure," says Gottesman.
The McKean-Eilers Building, the Day Building
and the Swift Building, (known as the old
Davis Hardware Building,) were built in the late
1800's. The McKean-Eilers Building was constructed
in 1897 and housed one of Austin's leading
stores. It was designed by the renowned
architect J. Gordon Riley, who designed many
court houses throughout the state of Texas. "The
Victorian Romanesque Revival style of the building
reflects the original owner's pride in their business
and showed their customers that they were
upright citizens of the community," says Mrs. Binnie
Hoffman, Research Historian and Associate in
the architecture firm of Bell, Klein & Hoffman of
Austin.
The Day Building was built in 1888 and
housed a wholesale grocery and import store. J. M.
'Doc' Day, an associate of Jesse Driskill, was the
architect. The Swift Building was constructed in
1903-04 and housed the Austin operation of Swift
Meat Packing Company. All three buildings will
be used for commercial offices and perhaps for
ground-floor restaurants.

Elevation of the
restored McKean-Eilers,
Day, and Swift buildings
on Congress Avenue
in Austin.

4

Texas Historical Foundation. Texas Heritage, Spring 1984. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45446/. Accessed April 16, 2014.