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PAGGI CARRIAGE SHOP

PAGGI CARRIAGE SHOP. The Paggi Carriage Shop, a carriage and wagon dealership at what is now 421 East Sixth Street in Austin, was founded by prominent nineteenth-century businessman Michael Paggi. Born in Italy around 1840, he studied art in France before joining the forces of archduke Maximilian of Austria. Threatened by his brother's growing popularity and power, Franz Joseph sent Maximilian to rule in Italy, and in the 1860s to Mexico to fight for the cause of France's Napoleon III. When Italian and French nationals were being arrested there, Paggi was forced to change his original name, Michal Phegi, to Paggee, Patci, and other variants that disguised his Italian heritage. After Maximilian's death, Paggi fled from Mexico and lived for a time in San Antonio, where he became interested in ice manufacturing. The 1870 census indicates that by that year he was living in Austin's Barton Creek area. In 1871 he leased a turbine waterwheel, a mill, several houses, an ice machine, and a gristmill-all on Barton Creek roughly a quarter mile below Barton Springs. Later that year he went to Europe to purchase machinery that could produce up to 5,000 pounds of ice a day. By 1872 he was superintendent of the Austin Ice Company at San Jacinto Street on the Colorado River, and also produced soda water, syrup, and ice cream at a shop on Pecan (later Sixth) and Brazos streets. Paggi diversified his interests, and by 1871 also ran a bathing house on Barton Springs that provided bathing suits for swimmers, and a "Mexican fandango" described as a set of horses and carriages that moved in a circle accompanied by organ music. He also ran a small iron steamboat between the city and Barton Springs.

In 1875 he purchased, from John Hancock of Hancock and West, a site on the south side of Pecan (or east Sixth) Street between Neches and Trinity streets, and there established a wagon and carriage sales office; to house it he built a two-story stone commercial structure faced by elaborate brickwork. There he sold Studebaker wagons, buggies, surreys, and spring wagons. Horses were provided by the adjacent Alliance Wagon Yard. He also established a repair shop with a blacksmith; the shop painted and rented buggies and trimmed and lined surreys. The original carriage shop, which Paggi sold in 1905, received a Texas Historical Commission marker in 1976 and by that time was known as the Heritage Building. Paggi died around 1911. Paggi's Greek Revival plantation home on Barton Springs Road was built sometime before the Civil War, and later served as an inn for travelers. Local legend has it that Robert E. Lee spent a night there. Paggi bought the home, along with considerable land in the area, in 1884 for his second wife, Eugenia, and their nine children. A relative ran a grocery store and a saloon nearby. In the 1990s the Paggi House was used as a restaurant.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin History Center Files. Mary Starr Barkley, History of Travis County and Austin, 1839–1899 (Waco: Texian Press, 1963). Marker Files, Texas Historical Commission, Austin.

Diana J. Kleiner

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Diana J. Kleiner, "PAGGI CARRIAGE SHOP," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/dhphc), accessed September 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.