Krakauer Mansion

On 6/08/2018, El Paso lost a very important piece of its architectural history with the needless destruction of the Robert Krakauer Mansion. A fire consumed both the Mansion and its neighboring house on Golden Hill Terrace in central El Paso. The Krakauer home was vacant at the time, although it was reportedly still in good condition. The fire was widely reported in local media, and sent shock waves through the community of El Paso.

Robert Krakauer was born in San Antonio in 1877, and passed away as the result of an accidental shotgun wound in 1919 at his Clint, Texas ranch. He served as president of Associated Charities (who erected a memorial building, designed by Henry Trost, in his honor after his passing). He also served as president of the Chamber of Commerce, and the El Paso Rotary Club. He was Vice President of Krakauer, Zork & Moye, a company founded by his parents in 1886, which was a very successful dealer in hardware and mining supplies.

The Krakauer home was centrally located, and was extremely visible sitting on a hill overlooking the central portion of the city. It was a welcoming building, reminding all who passed by that Henry C. Trost was the Maestro of El Paso architects.

Built in 1915, this Tudor style home cost $15,000 to erect. It was a two-story structure, built on a concrete foundation, with the first story in brick and the upper floor stuccoed with a series of parallel wooden battens. The lead architect for this home was Henry Trost, and the contractor was James Marr & Company.

The home is very reminiscent of Trost's 1919 David Cohen residence. Trost and Trost rarely designed Tudor style homes, however when they did they were indeed handsome. The doorway arch of the Krakauer, especially evident in the early Ponsford photo (attached to this article), is identical to the window arches on the 1916 Texas and Pacific Railway Depot, leading us to conjecture that the Depot is a Henry Trost design, although we lack the documentary evidence that it is. It also is repeated in the Trost designed Irvin Apartments which still stand on Prospect St.

In the late 1930s, the Krakauer Residence was converted to apartments. In 1985 Felix Martinez and Jose Rangel reverted the property back into a single family residence, and completely restored the exterior. The home remained occupied until 2012, when owner Leonard Hall passed away and the property remained vacant until it was destroyed by fire.

The loss of this home was a great blow to the architectural history of El Paso in a manner which cannot be measured.

Of note is that this home was not the only historical building destroyed that day. The Pittman residence, built sometime between 1908 and 1915, was also an historical treasure. Built and occupied by Park W. Pittman (1861-1922), it stood for over a century. Pittman arrived in El Paso in 1885 and served as County Clerk for 18 years. When he passed away in 1922, he was an El Paso City Alderman. Johnny and Connie Hampton purchased the home in 1983, and had just paid off their mortgage at the time of the fire.

Text and research for this article was provided to by Mark Stone

Image courtesy of KISS FM

Image courtesy of KISS FM

The home in 1915. Image from Aultman & Dorman, and is part of the Ponsford collection at the El Paso Public Library (Ponsford 180) accessed via the Untiversity of North Texas (Denton) digital repository.