Austin History Center

Calcasieu Lumber Company Records

An Inventory of the Collection

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Calcasieu Lumber Company
Title: Calcasieu Lumber Company Records
Dates: 1882-1967
Abstract: Calcasieu Lumber Company started as a lumberyard in 1883 and evolved into a complete home center and furniture maker in its 117 years in business in Austin, Texas. The Board of Directors meeting minutes, financial records, legal documents, correspondence, publicity and marketing materials, personnel records, and photographs in this collection highlight the activities of the organization from 1882 to 1967.
Identification: AR.F.004
Quantity: 3.8 linear feet (7 boxes and 3 oversized volumes)
Location: Archives stacks, Outer vault, Oversized volumes
Language: The records are in English.
Repository: Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, 810 Guadalupe, PO BOX 2287, Austin, TX 78768

Administrative History

In 1883, two brothers, William Sherman Drake and Carl F. Drake opened the lumber company Drake Brothers in Austin, Texas. The brothers soon changed the name to Calcasieu Lumber Company, named after the top-quality lumber that came from Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. In 1890, William S. Drake bought out his bother's interest and took over the company as a private business. The business regularly expanded and by 1905 the lumberyard occupied four city lots. In 1910 the company added additional building materials (paint, glass, roofing products, etc.) to its inventory and had to expand again covering three more city lots. During this time Calcasieu also established numerous branch lumber yards in surrounding Central Texas towns under the name Mutual Lumber Company.

In the 1920s Drake introduced a monthly installment plan to finance homebuilding for customers that already owned a lot using low-interest loans. The company employed builders and became a one-stop shop for those looking for a new home. During Austin's residential building boom in the 1920s Calcasieu built many of the homes that created the subdivisions surrounding downtown Austin.

William S. Drake died in 1934 and the family chose R. G. Mueller to run the company. The company continued to expand and in 1940 they widened the scope of their activities by building a two-story mill to fabricate building supplies as well as adding appliances and air conditioning to their list of home equipment. The quest to become a complete home center was fulfilled in 1947 when William Drake's son Bill Drake, Jr. became president of the company and opened 72,000 square feet, 3-story retail building on West Second and Lavaca Street. Bill Drake added free home planning, home decorating and kitchen planning services to aid both the amateur and professional builder.

In 1949 a huge fire at the West 2nd Street storeyards caused an estimated $500,000 worth of damage. Calcasieu had all of its departments up and running within 48 hours. The company cleared the rubble and used the opportunity to build a service center to service the appliances and other home equipment sold by the company. In the 1950s Calcasieu was operating out of 19 building in Austin with 17 subsidiary lumber yards in Central Austin, employing over 300 people in its local plants. During this time period Calcasieu also began a furniture production business named Austin Industries.

The company eventually moved its operations out of the downtown area and by its 100th anniversary in 1983 Calcasieu had established itself in Southeast Austin where they expanded the lumberyard, showroom, and offices to 32 acres. In the mid-1990s there was talk of selling the company when it was determined that there was an imminent succession problem at Calcasieu, where ownership would be passed onto a fourth generation, none of whose member would have owned more than two percent of the company. T. N. "Nick" Morris, grandson to the founder of the company, bought out 70 other family members on August 15, 1997 to become the president and CEO of Calcasieu Lumber. The company topped the $100 million sales mark for the first time in 1998 and employed 1000 people. In 2000, with annual sales of over $120 million, Carolina Holdings purchased Calcasieu Lumber.

Scope and Contents

The Calcasieu Lumber Company Records measure approximately 2.4 linear feet and span the years 1882 to 1967. The collection primarily contains material relating to the development and progress of the company during its early years from the late 1800s to the 1950s. The Records are arranged into nine series: History, Board of Directors, Correspondence, Financial Records, Legal Documents, Marketing and Publicity, Personnel, Mutual Lumber Company and Photographs.

The first series, History (1885-1896, 1949, undated), contains two documents written to chronicle the history of the company and newspaper clippings. Also included is a daily report from the night watchman on duty when the 1949 fire broke out and an inventory of fire photos (see Photograph series for photos of the fire). The Board of Directors series (1884-1906) consists of three ledgers: one spans the dates 1884-1894; the other 1904-1906; with the third being a typed, partion version of the first ledger. The ledgers contain the Charter and Bylaws of the Calcasieu Lumber Company and minutes of the annual stockholders meetings that include the Report of the Treasurer and election results for officers and directors. Two letter books as well as some loose letters make up the Correspondence (1884-1944) series. The letter books date from February of 1884 to December of 1885 and each includes an index of the correspondents. Most of the correspondence in this series reference financial transactions with customers and creditors. The Financial series (1883-1942, undated) is an assortment of day books, annual inventories, balance sheets, check stubs, invoices, bills and receipts and price lists for Calcasieu products. Of most interest are the day books (1883-1884) and the annual inventories (1884, 1915, 1916, 1922, 1932) as they document how the business evolved through the years. The Legal Documents series (1882-1917) mainly consists of documents pertaining the sale and purchase of property in Austin. Also of interest is an agreement between W. S. Drake (vice and acting president of Calcasieu Lumber Company) and Carl F. Drake (president of The Drake Lumber Co.) signed in 1901 to not enter the territory of the other and engage in the wholesale sash, door or blind business or the retail lumber business. The Marketing and Publicity series (1887-1904, 1931-1959, undated) consists of advertising materials generated by Calcasieu, advertising cuts and newspaper clippings. Notable is a scrapbook created by the company in 1956 that documents the company's marketing strategy and includes examples (print and photographs) of the advertising Calcasieu employed including newspaper, radio, television, fence signs, direct mail, contests, and exhibits. The Personnel series (1917-1967) includes newspaper clippings about employees, notices to employees and a letter sent out by Calcasieu to the families of its former employees serving in World War II requesting their addresses. The Mutual Lumber Company series (1906-1933) includes materials that document the activities of the branch lumber yards in surrounding Central Texas towns that operated under the name Mutual Lumber Company with W. S. Drake as the first president. Included are a Board of Directors minute book that includes the minutes from the first annual meeting in 1906 to a special meeting called in June of 1938; stock certificates dating from 1906-1914; correspondence including letters from W. S. Drake to the various lumberyard managers evaluating their performance; marketing materials published in both English and German; and personnel lists. The majority of the over 500 photographs in the Photographs series (circa 1890-1958, undated) are dated from the 1940s and 1950s and document the buildings and employees of Calcasieu Lumber Company. Highlights of the series include over 150 photographs document the construction of the Complete Home Center from 1945 to 1947 as well as photos of the damage and cleanup of the 1949 fire that significantly damaged the Calcasieu lumberyard.


Arranged into 9 series:
I. History
II. Board of Directors
III. Correspondence
IV. Financial Records
V. Legal Documents
VI. Marketing and Publicity
VII. Personnel
VIII. Mutual Lumber Company
IX. Photographs


Restrictions on Access

Open to all users.

Restrictions on Use


Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.
Drake, Carl Flyel, 1857-.
Drake, William Sherman, 1864-1934.
Mueller, R. G.
Calcasieu Lumber Company.
Mutual Lumber Company.
Austin (Tex.)

Related Material

General Collection

  • A 674.3209764 B823B Calcasieu Lumber Co. (Lewis Brownlow - transcript of interview about his forty years at Calcasieu Lumber Co.)
  • A 684.1 AU Austin Industries: Custom Built Furniture with Special Functional Features for the Contract Field
  • A 725.0976431 HI Historic American building survey of Calcasieu Lumber Company Home Center: prepared for the City of Austin and Texas Historical Commission

Austin Files

  • Biography - Drake family
  • Subject - Lumberyards-Calcasieu L3610


  • The Splinter: All that's new at Calcasieu right to the point
  • Calcasieu: Newsletter for the Professional Builder
  • Artistic Homes: Calcasieu Lumber

Separated Material

Twelve oversized photographs of Calcasieu buildings (interior and exteriors) were separated to the Austin Files collection - qAF L3610 PICAs 22844-46, 20343-49, 20351-52.

Administrative Information

Custodial History

This collection is a combination of several donations starting with a donation from W. S. Drake, Jr. in 1967. Further details about which materials came from what donor are available in the donor file (DO/1967/013).

Preferred Citation

Calcasieu Lumber Company Records (AR.F.004). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library.

Acquisition Information

Donor #: DO/1967/078

Donation Date: 1967, 1973, 1976

Processing Information

The collection was originally processed in the 1970s. Subsequent donations and changes in arrangement and description procedures made reprocessing the collection a necessity. Finding aid created and encoded by Molly Hults/2011.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. History, 1885-1896, 1949, undated

Box Folder
1 1 Assorted documents and newspaper clippings, 1885-1896, 1949, undated
2 Fire, 1949

II. Board of Directors, 1884-1906

Box Folder
1 3 Annual meeting minutes ledger, 1884-1894
4 Annual meeting minutes and stock record book, 1904-1906

III. Correspondence, 1884-1944

1 Letter books, 1884-1885
Box Folder
2 1 Assorted correspondence, 1894-116, 1931-1944

IV. Financial Records, 1883-1942, undated

Box Folder
2 2-3 Drake Brothers day books, 1883 July-November
Oversized Volumes Calcasieu Lumber Company day book, 1884 February-July
Box Folder
2 4-7 Annual inventories, 1884, 1915, 1916, 1922, 1932
8 Balance sheets, 1936
9 Check stubs, 1884
10 Invoices, bills, etc, 1901-1907, 1938, 1942
11 Receipts, 1887, 1911-1924, 1933, undated
12 Price lists, 1898, 1906, 1937, undated

V. Legal Records, 1882-1917

Box Folder
3 1 Legal documents, 1882-1917

VI. Marketing and Publicity, 1887-1904, 1931-1959, undated

Box Folder
3 2 Advertising cuts, undated
Oversized Volumes Advertising cuts scrapbook, undated
Box Folder
3 3 Flyers, undated
Oversized Volumes Marketing strategy scrapbook, 1956
Box Folder
3 4 Newspaper clippings, 1931, 1947
5 Stationary, undated
6 Assorted, 1887-1904, 1957-1960, undated

VII. Personnel, 1917-1967

Box Folder
3 7 Employees, 1917, 1920, 1936, 1953, 1967, undated
8 World War II letters, 1945

VIII. Mutual Lumber Company,

Box Folder
3 9 Bylaws, 1907
10 Board of Directors annual meeting minutes, 1907-1938
11 Stock certificates, 1906-1914
Box Folder
4 1-2 Correspondence, 1930-1933
3 Marketing and publicity, undated
4 Personnel, 1917-1918, undated
5 Assorted documents, 1927, 1932, undated

IX. Photographs, circa 1890-1958, undated

Location ArchivesCollection
Outer Vault Shelf Building and personnel photos, circa 1890-1958, undated