Thursday, May 21, 2009

In Praise of Towers and Time

When I was an Austin Teenager, this six-story tower was a drill tower for firemen, now it is Buford Tower.

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When I was a kid, towers fascinated me. They still hold a place in my heart. As Tall Husband and I sat eating dinner in Austin, earlier this month, I glanced out the window and saw a familiar sturdy, brick tower and suddenly remembered it as "the fireman's tower." I had been a teenager in Austin with a student bus pass which allowed me to explore the city as I chose. This had been one of my favorite destinations, as unusual but functional architecture has always been a passion of mine.

I left Tall Husband in the restaurant and aimed my camera at the tower. I asked a young passerby if he knew anything about the tower and he answered that it wasn't anything special, it was just an old tower that rang out the hour. It surely wasn't worth a photograph.

Via Google, I since learned that the tower is no longer used to train firemen. As Austin grew, it became impractical to train firemen in the center of a city and in 1974 a new drill tower was built in a more convenient location. In 1978 Effie R. Kitchens, whose late husband had built the tower, provided funds for the restoration of the old tower and a carillon was added. The old tower is now the
Buford Tower, named in 1978 for a Captain James L. Buford, a fireman who died in the line of duty in 1972, in an attempt to rescue a 15-year old boy during a Shoal Creek Flood.

Today the old 1930 tower has a new purpose: its carillon, called the Kitchens Memorial Chimes, rings out the time. As I stood there listening to its chimes, I thought about what the young passerby had said, then decided that the tower is
something special; it's still standing after all this time...and so am I.


  1. Hi Annie!

    Thank you so much for your sweet words and your concern. *big hug*
    I am feeling a lot better now, even though my gallbladder still carries those ugly stones :(

    I have been lookinbg through your blog now, and I like your posts, I like the stories and the photos of course :)

    Have a wonderful weekend

  2. I love old towers...crazy kid...he will learn someday...thanks for sharing