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Buford Tower repairs complete two years after fire damage

The historic fire drill tower in Downtown Austin has been restored with new windows and updates to its brick and concrete plinth.

Buford Tower in Downtown Austin, with the sun setting to the left.

Downtown Austin’s nearly 100-year-old Buford Tower is now cared for by the Austin Parks and Recreation department.

Photo by richlv, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

More than two years after a fire engulfed it in flames, the historic Buford Tower is now fully restored.

The six-story building — a 1930s-era firefighting training tower on Cesar Chavez Street downtown — was damaged in April 2021 by a fire that spread to it from a nearby encampment.

As a result, the tower’s brick, concrete plinth, indoor electrical components, and carillon chimes needed repairs. The building also required window and landscaping replacement.

This isn’t the first time the tower has been restored. The building was last revamped in 1978, the same year it was renamed in honor of former Austin Fire Department captain James Buford.

The tower is on the National Register of Historic Places — learn more about its history.