Have you seen the mysterious Travis House monument door at 18th and Guadalupe downtown?
From the look of it, the former Travis House site is in total stasis, but the sidewalk has been given the Great Streets treatment, even if for just half a block.
A little history: the Travis House was building constructed in 1945 as a 30-unit multi-family building, among whose tenants included a secretary for then-Congressman Lyndon Johnson. Within five years of being built, the building was converted into a hotel, named Hotel Guadalupe. In 1956, it was purchased by the YWCA and became one of the few places where black UT students were allowed to rent rooms while going to school on campus, according to city records.
Fast forward to the 1990s, and the YWCA chapter fell into bankruptcy and lost the building, at which point the Travis County Justice System converted the building into a halfway house for recently released prisoners. Predictably, that sparked a public safety outcry, due to the proximity to young UT students, which led to a period of limbo and vacancy for the Travis House. There were a series of low-profile, unsolved arsons in the building while it was generally used as a flop house by the homeless, amid growing clamors to destroy the building. Finally, in 2010 one of the fires found fuel and resulted in a two-alarm fire and the building was taken down.
As a testament to that thrilling history, the door reconstruction stands there now, with the original carvings above the entrance and reclaimed bricks from the demolition. A fairly large plaque is posted on the south side.
The historical significance of the building is debatable; however, the aesthetic effect of the monument, especially at night, is undoubtedly intriguing.