Buda is a city that changes with the times. From a small railroad stop to a thriving residential community Buda has always managed to carry some of its history with it. We can see these changes reflected structurally in one of Buda’s oldest and prettiest buildings- The Carrington House.
The old revivalist style home is one of the first buildings to greet you as you drive in on Main St and has been home to some of Buda’s important residents and seen its biggest changes.
The Carrington House was built as a hotel in 1882 by L.D. Carrington on 320 N. Main St. It was one of the first structures built on Main Street and intended to serve passengers on the new railroad stop in Buda which at the time was known as DuPre.
The hotel may be partially responsible for how Buda got its name. In the late 1800s that Texas had another DuPre and so the city would need a new name. One story of Buda’s origin is that the town was named after the Mexican widows, the “viudas,” who cooked food at the Carrington Hotel
The house would later be owned by W.S. Birdell, Dr. J.J. Horton, and the Millers. These were important figures in Buda’s history and many of their names have been memorialized in the streets of some of our newer residential subdivisions.
In spite of this history there was a time when the Carrington House was in such bad condition that it almost could not be restored. In 1977 it was offered for sale and I drove down from Austin to see the property. The price was under $30,000. I was tempted to buy it, but I had brought a builder friend along with me and he advised me that it was too far gone. He told me that it would cost so much to restore it that I could never make any money on the investment. I took his advice and I passed on the opportunity.
In 1993, when I moved to Buda I met the amazing couple who had bought the home in 1977. Neil and Lois Franklin had purchased the house and “brought it back.” When I met them, they were living in the house and Neil was running his surveying and engineering business out of one of the downstairs front rooms.
They told me about all of the work that they had done to the Carrington House. They started with the foundation and then moved on to rebuilding the porches. They added new electrical wiring, plumbing with new fixtures and a new central air conditioning system. In the process they replaced a lot of damaged and deteriorated wood work and painted the house a tan color.
After Neil died, Lois decided to sell the house. When she made this decision, I got a second chance to buy the property. I bought it with 3 partners and we converted it to commercial office suites. During the time that our partnership owned the property we rebuilt the porches (again) and added a new metal roof. Of course we also replaced damaged wood and did more painting.
After many years of care and restoration the Carrington House could be a contributing structure in Buda’s National Historic District designation.
In January 2018 our partnership sold the property to a new owner who plans to maintain the property and continue its proper care.
The charm of Buda can be found in its history. Preserving the buildings and legacies that make Buda unique will be the main challenge in keeping the city a special place as we continue to grow.
John B. Sanford