The Castleman Bull House Project

Part of Austin’s early history is the historic Castleman-Bull House, built in 1873. It was moved to its current downtown Austin location on Red River Street in 2001, donated to the city by St. David’s Episcopal Church. Built by R.M. Castleman, a prominent Austin Merchant, and occupied by four Castleman generations, it was one of the grandest homes in Austin until the 1920’s economic boom eclipsed its grandeur. Since its move, it has stood as a silent, unoccupied testament to Austin’s past, expressing curiosity to the remnants of the past and its future.

Jamail & Smith Construction, serving the City of Austin since 2007 as one of the City’s first job order contractors, was first involved with the project in 2011. In an effort to preserve the classic structure until its future could be determined, our team reinforced its integrity by building envelope repairs and roofing restoration.

In 2019, as part of preparations for the 2020 National Mayor’s Conference, Jamail & Smith was selected to perform the next step of the home’s reconstruction. Performing a complete exterior remodel and site development, our team restored the original wood windows, while saving the original glass. We removed lead and asbestos, restored and repointed the masonry, restored and replaced the woodwork, and repaired critical structural infrastructure which threatened the integrity of the home. Our team also preserved the original porch and front door. The entire structure was repainted, and an irrigation system was added. To increase the safety of the historic porch guardrail and add to the beauty of the building, stone planters, landscaping and a grand entry stairway were added to meet current codes. Extensive but architecturally accurate security fencing was added to the homesite to increase the security of the still un-occupied home. The work was accomplished in six months despite COVID-19 shutdowns and competing projects undertaken by the Austin Convention Center on the same site.

The Castleman-Bull House will be the first fixed-front porch in the Promiseland Project movement, also known as America’s Front Porch. Its purpose is to create a forum where all people from every walk of life, can sit together, talk, and listen to each other, as neighbors.

“Jamail & Smith is proud to be part of a project that is growing into a movement to help heal our nation, while improving the quality of life for the Austin community.” – Gregory Smith, PE, CJP

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