Buford Tower renovations begin in downtown Austin

Workers began constructing scaffolding around Buford Tower on Tuesday. Photo: Asher Price/Axios

A fire-ravaged iconic Austin tower is being repaired.

Driving the news: The city has begun renovating downtown Buford Tower, originally built in 1930 as a training facility for the Austin Fire Department.

  • The six-story drill tower was regularly set on fire and flooded during training exercises.
  • But after firefighters built a new tower on Pleasant Valley Road in the early 1970s, the original tower fell into disrepair – only to be restored in 1978 and dedicated to James Buford, an AFD captain who drowned in 1972 while trying to save a 15-year-old boy who also drowned in Shoal Creek.

Details: It is located on West Cesar Chavez Street near Colorado Street – and just north of Lady Bird Lake.

  • The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 2016.
  • To note : The building also houses the Kitchens Memorial Chimes.

Fast forward: Last year, Buford Tower caught fire.

A tweet from the Burning Buford Tower.
Screenshot via @AustinFireInfo/Twitter

And after: City officials hope the renovations will be complete by the end of the summer – the AFD usually holds its 9/11 commemorations at the site.

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David H. Henry