The Lehman High School Story

Hays County has always been a place of community effort. That effort was crucial to establishing the school district’s second high school site and I’m proud to have been a part of it.


In 2001 The Hays CISD Administration office hired John B. Sanford Real Estate to assist the district in finding two new school sites.  Student growth had caused the need for a new high school.  We had several early meetings about the process.  The staff informed me that when a district changed from one high school to two high schools that this was more difficult than moving from two high schools to three.  We had to take in account the location of Hays High School which was in the middle part of the western half of the district.  The new high school site could not be too close to Hays High school.   This requirement caused the search to be in an arc from FM 1626 and the Travis County Line over to the east side of IH 35 and then south to the extreme south end of the district.  The school district already owned a large enough land tract on FM 967 just to the west of FM 1626, so this site was included as the first option along the arc.

As I contacted land owners along this arc, at times I received the response, “John do not consider part of my property, move along to your other choices.”  It was becoming clear that not everyone wanted a new high school as a neighbor.  Eventually we found a list of eight land tracts along the arc that were far enough away from Hays High School.  The staff wanted to narrow it down to the three best choices and then let the school board make the final decision.

The final decision came down to a tract of land owned by Ted Lehman off of Bunton Creek Rd in Kyle.  As I sat across from him at his kitchen table and discussed the possible sale of some of his farm land he told me, “Mr. Sanford if it was anybody else wanting some of my land I would not sell, but because it is for the school district I will try to make this work.”   At that time, I did not realize that he was a former Hays CISD School Board President.

lehman aerial
Mr. Lehman was very particular about where the boundary line would be since he would still own the adjacent land.  He did not like the location of one of the surveyor’s stakes and on a rainy muddy day he told me to find a jeep and he and I would drive out in the mud and drive a stake at the exact point where he wanted it.  After we finished, he asked,” Mr. Sanford, Where did you get this jeep.”  I told him that I had borrowed it from Michael Thames.”  He commented, “Those Thames boys are good boys.”  I answered, “Yes sir.”  He added, “They both played football for Hays.  That John Thames would really hit you if you carried the ball around his side of the field.  Be sure and tell Michael Thank you for the loan of the jeep.”

All through this process there was concern in the community about football coach Bob Shelton and his opinion about opening up a second high school. In other districts football coaches have been known to oppose new high schools out of a fear of dividing up athletic talent.  I knew coach Shelton because we both volunteered on the board of the North Hays Optimist Club.  One day I asked him, and he said, “John, I’m not going to be one to object to a second high school.  Right now, I have three boys to a locker for freshman football.  The second high school is needed.”

As we moved closer to the time of the sale, Mr. Lehman, decided that he would make a donation of a part of the land.  The site ended up being a total of 53.46 acres.

The Lehman High School campus opened in 2004 with 960 students in grades 8 through 10.  The school was named after the family of Ted Lehman.   Today a 455 seniors will walk the stage to graduate from Lehman.


Growing from small farming communities to suburban ones has at times been hard for Buda and Kyle. But the great efforts of our people helped move us forward in 2001 and again now as we look forward to the opening the district’s 3rd high school. More people may come, but I have faith that the people of Hays County will always do what it takes for the next generation.

Buda’s Carrington House Story

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

4 Acres – Industrial – Robert S. Light – Buda

Image 3
This industrial lot is for sale in a rapidly developing part of Buda. Robert S. Light has been approved to be extended to the west to connect with FM 2770. This extension will include an overpass over the railroad track. City funding is in place and right-of-way has been acquired.

A convenience store is planned for the Corner Lot (Lot 1) of Robert S. Light Blvd and South Loop 4. Two 10,000sq ft industrial buildings have recently been built on Lot 2 which fronts on South Loop 4.

See attached package for more information.
4 Ac Robert S Light Pkg

The Buda Stagecoach Park Story

Buda’s Stagecoach Park on Main Street is a wonderful place with historic buildings, trails, playgrounds, and even an Amphitheater. The park is also a monument to Texas charm with its trails lined by Pecan, Live Oak, and Blueberry Juniper trees. But this great place was not always meant to be- in 1998 the site of Buda’s Stagecoach Park was on track to become an overnight RV park. As towns grow they can often to lose track their country landscapes, this is the story of the part I played in preserving some of Buda’s natural beauty.

At the beginning of 1998 the old stagecoach house property and site of future Stagecoach Park on Main Street (52 acres) was listed for sale by an Austin Realtor. The owners were two Stanzel Brothers – Victor & Joe.

The Austin Realtor had a buyer for the property that wanted to turn it into an RV campground. At that time, I was a member of the Buda Old Town Association and our organization had worked diligently to have the old stagecoach house part of the property (1.9 acres) gift deeded to our organization. This is the historic home built for postmasters of Buda. We had no idea what would happen to the remaining 50 acres.

By June 1998 Gray White, the Buda Mayor, became alarmed that the sale to the RV Park developer might go through. He and I met to discuss the property. He complained that the Austin Realtor would not take him seriously about the City of Buda wanting to buy the property. The realtor was not returning Mayor White’s telephone calls.


I told Gray that there was a state law that said that a listing broker had to present a written contract offer to the owners. I told him that if we wrote up a contract to buy the property then the listing Realtor would have to present to offer to Victor & Joe Stanzel and the Realtor would also have to talk to the city.

By a stroke of luck the Stanzel brothers had a niece named Helen Niesner who lived in Hays Country Oaks subdivision just to the west of Buda. When Helen learned of the two options for the property, she talked with her uncles and helped to persuade them to sell the property to the city instead of to the RV park developer.

At this same time, Grey White then made the remarkable decision for the City of Buda to buy all of the property.   He had found the necessary money somewhere in the city budget and we scheduled the closing for August 1998. The sale closed on August 28, 1998 at the Law offices of Robert Giberson (Hays County Abstract) located at 317 North Railroad Street Buda, Texas.

There was some continued talk about the Old Stagecoach House and the original post office building being donated to the Buda Old Town Association, but in the end the city decided to retain all of the property.

stagecoach park map

In February 2004 Texas Parks & Wildlife made a $500,000 donation to the City of Buda “to acquire by donation 1.2 acres and develop 50.4 acres of city-owned non-parkland as Buda Stagecoach Park located on Onion Creek in the east area of the city. Proposed development includes a 1.2 acre wetland dedication, 5.0 acre open space dedication, 1.91 mile hike/bike trail, 0.15 mile nature trail, wetland garden, lighted amphitheater, pavilion, playground, nine picnic stations, 10 benches, pond, three camp sites, council ring, creek observation overlook, wetland observation overlook, park overlook, creek access areas, wildflower meadow, xeriscape gardens, three educational/information kiosks, interpretive signs, and program signs. The local match consists of the value of the city-owned non-parkland, Hays County grant funds, and private donations of land and labor.”

As a member of the Hays county Parks Advisory Board I was pleased to cast a vote to approve the above described “grant funds” from Hays County for the Stagecoach Park development.

The Old Stagecoach house is now the location of the city of Buda Parks & Recreation Department as well as the city tourism office. The remainder of the land is now a city park, The Stagecoach Park.

Growth across Central Texas has changed many communities and separated us from our natural histories. Often our discussions of land are in the utilitarian language of zoning, parking, and site planning. At Stagecoach Park on Main St. in Buda we managed to preserve, for generations to come, some of the wild beauty that preceded our town.


John B. Sanford, Realtor, Representative for the City of Buda for the purchase of the Old stagecoach House and Buda original post office.

SH 45 Extension – September Update

45swTravis county voters approved the SH 45 extension connecting FM 1626 to Mopac in 1997.  It is now completely funded and under construction as a toll road.  There had been a last-minute effort to stop this road with a lawsuit, but on August 4th the Federal court decisively ruled in favor of the Mobility Authority and TxDOT.  Work is now being done on overpasses at Bliss Spiller Road, Bear Creek, and Danz Creek.  The scheduled completion of this important road is Late 2019.

When completed SH 45 Southwest will knock 9 to 17 minutes off the drive time for area commuters traveling from Buda into central Austin.  The road opening will also reduce traffic and shorten drive times on Brodie Lane.

For Hays county residents, this road will also improve connectivity between Dripping Springs and the Buda-Kyle area.  This new east-west travel option will replace traveling on narrow country roads that have many twists and turns.

A retail and mixed-use development called Hays Commons is planned at the intersection of SH 45 SW and FM 1626.  Over 100 acres is planned for a commercial area that  could include a grocery store and complimentary retail.  As a part of the development agreement with the city of Hays 113 acres of parkland will be donated to the city.

John B. Sanford, Broker

The Sportsplex Land Story – Buda, Texas


Development doesn’t always go in a straight line. The paths that turn vacant land into shopping centers, grocery stores and homes are full of unexpected twists. In the mid-2000s I was involved in developing a significant commercial corner in Buda that opened up land for over a thousand homes. It is important to keep histories of Buda’s past alive as the city grows, this is one story of how Buda came to be.

In 2004 The land at the Northwest corner of FM 967 and FM 1626 was undeveloped and owned by the Dahlstrom Family.  On the tax rolls, it was in the name of Cecilia Austin.  Knowing the potential for the property I called her to discuss it. Mrs. Austin explained that the land was tied up in a complicated family partnership and selling the property would be difficult due to conflicting interests.

After several months of family negotiations, I successfully listed the property for sale.  Michael Thames and Terri Wimmer then bought the property.

In 2005, Michael Thames and Terri Wimmer, donated the land just west of the intersection for the Fire & EMS station that is now there.  They also sold the corner lot to Sac-N-Pac for a convenience store which has since been bought by Stripes.

Thames & Wimmer sold the majority of the remaining land (98 acres) to the Buda Economic Development Corporation. I was one of the agents that negotiated the land sale.   In July of 2005, the Buda EDC then donated 14.19 acres for the Hays Communities YMCA.  The Buda EDC then started developing the baseball fields as a Sportsplex that could hold baseball and softball tournaments.  In 2008 the Sportsplex baseball fields were completed. The EDC also developed 7.5 acres of frontage lots which were bought by many businesses.


As part of developing the 7.5 acres of commercial lots the Buda EDC extended the city sewer lines to this property.  The first commercial lots were sold in 2006.  The sewer line for the commercial lots also provided city sewer for the land that was later developed into Garlic Creek, Elm Grove, Whispering Hollow, and Summer Pointe residential subdivisions.

To many the growth in Northwest Buda around FM 1626 and FM 967 may seem like a natural process of time. But in fact these changes required dozens of actors all working in concert for many years.  Buda has come to be the city we love in spurts and twists. In this case it was from a phone call that turned vacant land to a commercial corner that provided sewer access to many new residents.

John B. Sanford, Realtor  –  Community Builder

SOLD – 206 Canyon Wren – Leisurewoods – Buda

Beautifully updated Leisurewoods home- New Roof, New Septic (coming soon), fresh interior paint, new tile floors in bedrooms, no carpet, new granite in kitchen including laundry room sink. Secluded acre lot with numerous mature trees, some fruit bearing. Large back porch perfect for get togethers has been recently re-stained.

4 bedroom – 2 bath
Listed at $345,000

Call J.D. Sanford at 512-924-1459 for more information

1 2 3 4 7