TABLE OF CONTENTS
August Watkins Harris:
An Inventory of August Watkins Harris Drawings at the Texas State Archives, 1957 September 26
Architect August Watkins Harris was born on October 8, 1893, in Austin, Texas to William Watkins Harris and Lou (Swartz) Harris. In 1910, Harris enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin where he studied architecture and founded the Theta Xi fraternity on campus. During World War I, he served as an officer in the United States Army in France. In 1919 he went to work for architect David R. Williams in Tampico, Mexico.
Harris returned to the United States in 1921 and partnered with former University of Texas classmate Bertram E. Giesecke to form the architectural firm Giesecke & Harris. The firm was active throughout the state of Texas and designed residential, commercial, and public buildings. Several of buildings designed by the firm are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: the Kurt and Meta Schmedes House, Austin (1924); Brenham High School, Brenham (1928); Bryan Municipal Building, Bryan (1929); Hyde Park Fire Station, Austin (1929); the Norwood Building, Austin (1929); the Merchants and Manufacturers Building, Houston (1930); the Blackstone Building, Tyler (1938); and the Santa Rita Courts housing project, Austin (1939).
Harris returned to military service in 1940, causing the dissolution of the Giesecke & Harris architectural firm in 1941. He was discharged in 1946 as a lieutenant colonel and returned to Austin after the war, continuing to practice architecture independently until he formed a partnership with his son William. Two notable Austin buildings designed by Harris during this period are the State Bar of Texas building (1951) and Govalle Fire Station No. 15 (1952).
Harris' contributions to architecture also include research on Austin's built environment. He authored two books on the subject: The Elgin-Butler Brick Company, 1873-1963 (1963) and Minor and Major Mansions in Early Austin. The latter was published in three editions; the original printing in 1955, "a sequel" in 1958, and "a supplement" in 1959, each edition containing drawings of different homes and buildings in Austin. Each of the drawings was created by the author based on his research into these buildings. In addition to these books, Harris also authored the Specifications of the Repair and Renovation of the Old General Land Office Building (1957) for the State Building Commission and produced historical maps based on his research.
Harris was a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and his civic involvement in Austin included memberships in the Austin Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, the Heritage Society of Austin, Austin's Zoning Commission, and the Travis County Historical Survey Committee. He had also served as a consultant with the Austin Mayor's Emergency Housing Commission to provide housing for World War II veterans.
Harris married Loula Macgill Ujffy in 1922, with whom he had four children: Clara, August, Jr., William, and Eleanor. He died at the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Waco on January 31, 1968 and is buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.
(Sources include: Bell, Cherise J., "Harris, August Watkins, Sr. [Watt]," Handbook of Texas Online. National Register of Historic Places listings for Giesecke & Harris found through the National Archives Catalog at https://catalog.archives.gov/. Both sites accessed July 17, 2019.)
August Watkins Harris was an Austin-based architect who designed buildings throughout Texas. He also published two books on architecture in Austin, as well as the Specifications of the Repair and Renovation of the Old General Land Office Building for the State Building Commission. The Harris drawings consist of two diazotype prints of the 1853 Limestone Capitol building, which Harris calls the "Texas Colonial Capitol," dating September 26, 1957. One print depicts the building's front elevation and one print is of the Capitol's floor plans. These drawings are included in the 1958 sequel to Minor and Major Mansions in Early Austin and are noted to be "compiled and drawn from data discovered in the archives of the State of Texas, the collection of the Austin Public Library, and from photographic and related material made available by Mr. Walter E. Long."
Restrictions on Access
Materials do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Under the Copyright Act of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. The term of copyright for published material varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Drawings are too large to be photocopied.
(Identify the item), August Watkins Harris drawings. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: 2019/113
Provenance is unknown. These drawings were likely donated to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by August Harris or his spouse sometime after 1958.
Processed by Angela Swift, May 2019
The drawings described in this finding aid have been digitized and are part of the Texas Digital Archive, available online at https://tsl.access.preservica.com/tda/manuscripts-collections/#harris.