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Hunnicutt House
Photo: Hunnicutt House
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405 West 12th Street
built: 1872
demolished: March 1974
Replaced by: Parking Lot

In 1872, as Reconstruction ended in Texas and economic recovery brought wealth back into the community, the handsome Hunnicutt House was constructed by pioneer Austin resident, Dr. M.A. Taylor at a cost of $35,000. With elegant uncluttered lines and fine stonework, it was an example of the transition of the simply ornamented Greek Revival dwelling into a picturesque one, with bay windows, bracketed eaves, and other historically inspired detailing. It had 20 rooms, a dramatic stairway, and solid limestone walls. When first built, the Hunnicutt House was said to be one of the finest homes west of the Mississippi.


Quote: Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear.

Photo: at left is Houghton House, right is Hunnicutt House
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"For many years this splendid home, with its 22-inch walls, faced east on the corner of 12th and Guadalupe. It looked across the street at another, younger, though now venerable neighbor, the Houghton house. Together the two of them illustrate a chapter in Austin's architectural history. The Hunnicutt house has the forthright squareness of the earlier Abner Cook mansions but shows the transition toward Victorian elaboration in its bay windows and decorative details." "Architectural History Told," from the Waterloo Scrapbook by Katharine Hart, Austin Statesman, October 14, 1972

In 1925 the Central Christian Church purchased the 12th and Guadalupe corner where the house sat. Mrs. Hicklin P. Hunnicutt declared, "We decided the house was too splendidly constructed to tear it down, so we decided to move it." A Galveston mover arrived by train with carfuls of equipment to guide the house next door to the lot on 12th Street. Alas, fifty years later, the new owners chose not to save it.

Photo: demolition of Hunnicutt House
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Like the Houghton House, the demolition of the Hunnicutt House was a protracted, painful affair for all concerned. "Historic Mansion Auctioned," says the headline of June 1, 1973. The 101-year-old Hunnicutt House was purchased at auction by Central Christian Church, which by then already owned almost half of the house and lot. Local businessman and former Assistant Attorney General of Texas, Robert T. (Sonny) Davis, wanted to turn the house into an office building but his bid against the church was unsuccessful. At first the church was noncommittal about its plans for the house, and the Travis County Historical Commission mounted a campaign to try to save the structure. It was joined by The Heritage Society of Austin, which proposed several plans that both preserved the house and allowed parking space and a nursery play area for the church. Specifically, the Heritage Society offered to donate $20,000 to the church to restore the house's fašade and to build a multilevel underground parking garage for the church's use. This offer was refused. At one point, a group called Preserve Austin, Inc. seemed to have found a solution, but it was thwarted at the last minute. The Mayor and the City Council tried to assist in preservation efforts. University of Texas students became involved, heightening the conflict.

The City Planning Department issued a demolition permit to the church on November 12, 1972, unbeknownst to the City Council. Preservation efforts continued in the ensuing months, but to no avail. On March 23, 1973, the Hunnicutt House was torn down. A parking lot is all that remains today.

What We Have Learned Lost Victorian Austin Home Butler House Houghton House Hunnicutt House