The Castle On The Hill

The Castle On The Hill

Have you driven down Baylor Street?  It’s a curious place. There is a vacated street between 9th and 10th.  There is a strange concrete structure that resembles something out of Blade Runner.  Above this curiosity sits a castle which is part of the “Nice Turret No Moat” subdivision which was established in 1885.  I did some digging around and this is what I found.

1008 Baylor
This is the 1.2 acre site of an unfinished mixed-use project.  Owned by Rooknoll LLC which is managed by Victor Ayad and local developer/architect Dick Clark.  This unfinished foundation work dates back to a 1980s condo project.  In 2007, Austin City council approved the upzoning of the the lot on Baylor to accommodate a small mixed-use development.  But it’s doubtful anything will be done with it soon.

1008 Baylor St - notice the castle in the background

1008 Baylor St - notice the castle in the background

1111 W 11th “The Castle”
Also owned by Rooknoll, LLC, this is the former Texas Military Institute castle.  In fact, this property is likely the root of the neighborhood named “Castle Hill”.  For decades it has been used on and off as a residence or office.  The view of downtown is spectacular.  It appears occupied right now, but as recently as a couple of years ago it made for interesting an subject for local urban explorers.  The structure is the oldest existing college building in Texas.

1111 W 11th

1111 W 11th

There is much more history to both of these properties, so please feel free to share what you know.  The zoning map below shows that many of the properties on Baylor are zoned for small multifamily use, but I haven’t found much information on the raison d’etre for the vacated street.

Vacated block on Baylor St

Vacated block on Baylor St

-Jude

sources:
-traviscad.org
-http://www.bravahouse.com/neighborhood.html
-flickr for “texas military institute”
-http://www.cityofaustin.org/edims/document.cfm?id=112057
-http://www.dupontcastle.com/castles/tmi.htm
(this is a very fun site!)
-http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/TT/kbt17.html

About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR, Principal of TOWERS Realty and publisher of Downtown Austin Blog (aka. "DAB"), spends his time matching remarkable people with remarkable properties in Austin’s urban core. A resident owner in downtown Austin, Jude serves on the Board of the Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) and the City of Austin Downtown Commission. Contact Jude.

Comments

  1. From an article in the Chronicle:

    It’s ironic that the Baylor Street walls are the foundations of a would-be condo, stalled after a botched soil test decades ago and again recently when the housing bubble burst. Although, “it’s very likely something will happen soon,” Clark said.

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2011-08-12/end-of-the-road-for-baylor-street-art-wall/

  2. avatar John R. Choate says:

    Search in your favorate search engine John Garland James and Texas Military Institute for an embarassing history of austin’s quest for an institute of higher education.

    JRC

    • avatar tpobrienjr says:

      The James family {Fleming, John G., and Charles) came to Bastrop after the Civil War. They restarted the school in Bastrop and named it Bastrop Military Academy. To reach a larger market, they moved the school to Austin and renamed it Texas Military Institute. In 1879, John was appointed second President of the new A&M College of Texas. He remained there until 1883, when he left to pursue business in North Texas.

  3. The 1008 Baylor site used to be a favored illicit drinking spot of mine when I was in high school many years ago. It offers a great view of downtown.

  4. avatar Patrick C. says:

    I’m not entirely certain of this, but I believe the last occupant of “the Castle” before it was (temporarily, now) vacated was developer Gary Bradley, of Circle C/Stratus/Freeport McMoRan.

    At any rate, there’s a few scenes of Bradley in the Castle, as well as a few shots of its urban explorer-vandalized interiors, in Laura Dunn’s 2007 documentary “The Unforeseen.” So he must have occupied it at some point. You get a good look at its skyline view, as well, which, it must be said, is pretty spectacular.

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