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O. HENRY MUSEUM

O. HENRY MUSEUM. The O. Henry Museum in Austin, Travis County, was the home of writer William S. Porter (O. Henry), who lived there with his wife and daughter from 1893 to 1895. Built in 1886 as a rental house, the simple but well-constructed four-room structure has high ceilings, handsomely carved doors and windows, ornate hinges, and Bastrop pine flooring. The house's long rental history ended in 1929, when it became the property of Herman Becker, who had been an acquaintance and admirer of O. Henry. In 1930 Samuel Edward Gideon, a professor of architecture at the University of Texas, reported to a committee of the Rotary Club headed by Clark Mueller that the house should be saved. Becker donated the house to the Rotary Club, which on January 23, 1934, donated it to the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, and the Daughters of 1812. The women in turn gave the house to the city of Austin on January 25, 1934, after the city council and Mayor Tom Miller agreed to accept the structure and turn it into a museum. Although originally located at 308 East Fourth Street, the house was temporarily moved to 510 East Fourth and then in March 1934 to its present location at Brush Square between Fourth and Fifth streets and San Jacinto and Trinity streets. The park was chosen as a permanent site for the museum because it was nearest the section of town where the author had lived. Labor and materials for the restoration were donated by the Herman Becker family as a memorial for their father, who had died. Special effort was made to furnish the home with pieces from the time of the Porter family's occupancy. Many of the museum's present furnishings belonged to the Porters or were closely associated with them. A piano the couple had played during their courtship, their chairs and bedroom furniture, letters and books, as well as toys belonging to their daughter, Margaret, have been gathered and donated. The house was opened to the public on June 2, 1934. Since 1972 the O. Henry Museum has been the site of various writing workshops, poetry readings, and an annual fund-raiser, the O. Henry Pun Off. The museum is maintained by a division of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department and has an on-site curator.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Austin American, January 29, 1930, January 25, 1934. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Mary Jayne Walsh

Citation

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

Mary Jayne Walsh, "O. HENRY MUSEUM," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lbo01), accessed April 17, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.