The Butler Window is one of the most popular locations in the Garden for photos, proposals, and special memories, and has become an iconic “Instagram-worthy” Garden moment. The intense usage, however, has resulted in soil compaction near the Window and erosion on the hillside below. The Conservancy’s plan is to stabilize and improve the landscape adjacent to the Window that will both protect this historic artifact and create an attractive gathering space for small events.
Historic preservation is an important part of vibrant communities and helps connect people to their past and to each other. Our Butler Window Project includes leveling the area below the Window, creating curved terraces down the hill lined in pink granite, and anchoring the bottom of the space with a curved pink granite seat wall and decomposed granite path. The Project will also include updated planting beds throughout and a new semi-circle of Native Redbud trees that frame the Butler Window. The lovely finished result will enhance the everyday visitor experience and heighten the Garden’s status as a unique setting for small concerts, weddings, Quinceaneras, and other occasions.
Our Goal: $300,000
Michael Butler, the founder of the Butler Brick Company, commissioned Austin’s Butler Mansion in 1887. He hired Thomas Harding, a close friend, and Little Rock architect, to design the house incorporating Butler bricks and Marble Falls granite, as both materials were being used to build the State Capitol. Butler bricks were Austin’s “original building blocks” utilized in the construction of many significant Austin buildings. The Butler Mansion was sadly demolished shortly after being sold by the family in the early 1970s. This demolition, however, ended up being a critical event that fueled the establishment of the Austin preservation movement.
The Moorish-style arch, or keyhole window, was donated to the City of Austin and relocated to the grounds of the Zilker Botanical Garden in 1971, a result of the city’s faithful effort to preserve special architectural remnants and their accompanying stories. The Garden has become home to a diverse and eclectic collection of Austin’s architectural past including the Mamie Wilson Rowe Summer House, the Swedish Log Cabin, the Esperanza Schoolhouse, the Wishing Well, the Blacksmith Shop, the Bickler Cupola, a Congress Avenue Footbridge, and historic light posts that grace our parking area.
“There are ways in which a house holds the key to happiness, especially for children playing there. I am so pleased to
see memories of my childhood live on and bring others joy in this beautiful garden.”
-Meta Butler Hunt,
Michael Butler’s Great-Granddaughter,
Butler Window Restoration Fundraising Committee
The Zilker Botanical Garden joins many botanical gardens in exploring a wide range of programming and outreach. The Zilker Botanical Garden joins many botanical gardens in exploring a wide range of programming and outreach strategies, from musical performances and art exhibits to cultural festivals and health and wellness opportunities. These activities take advantage of the quintessential ambiance a garden offers, welcoming long-time members and newcomers, and reaching beyond gardeners and nature-lovers. We provide an engaging, ever-changing mix of activities for the very youngest to the very oldest. Your kind assistance will help us preserve this Austin treasure for future generations.