Barrett, William Martin (1812–1867)

By: Aline Law

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 1, 1994

William Martin Barrett, builder, was born in Dinwiddie, Virginia, in 1812, and came to Texas in 1841. He was appointed architect and contractor for the first permanent building of Austin College in Huntsville in 1851. When the college was moved to Sherman in 1876, the building was used for public school purposes; in 1879 it became the first building of Sam Houston Normal Institute (now Sam Houston State University). It is still in use by the college and is the oldest building in Texas used continuously for educational purposes. Barrett was a colonel in the Mexican War and also served as an officer in the Civil War. He was allegedly a cousin of William Barret Travis and a friend of Sam Houston, who was an Austin College trustee. Barrett married Mrs. Nancy Keenan Hamilton in Huntsville on December 5, 1847; they had four children. Barrett died in Huntsville on September 18, 1867, of yellow fever.

Frank W. Johnson, A History of Texas and Texans (5 vols., ed. E. C. Barker and E. W. Winkler [Chicago and New York: American Historical Society, 1914; rpt. 1916]).
  • Architecture
  • Architects

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

Aline Law, “Barrett, William Martin,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 1, 1994