The Travis House Ghost Door

The Travis House Ghost Door

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.

block pic

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.

rbz Travis House Fire 02

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.

About Jude Galligan

Jude Galligan, REALTOR-Principal of REATX 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.


  1. That is a cool door and hopefully can be preserved. Love the ancient Roman influence in the style.

  2. Thanks, I was wondering what that was all about.

  3. avatar Lance Hunter says:

    I’d definitely say Travis House is worth memorializing. It had a really dark vibe in the declining years, but I’d say almost everyone who lived in the area when the building stood remembers walking past that door. So the ghost door is about a perfect a tribute as you could make to the place.

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