The Walter Tips House

Posted by junketseo in Haunted Austin Ghost Tour
The Walter Tips House - Photo

Travel down Congress Avenue in Austin, and you’ll see a distinct fluctuation of architectural styles that serve as time markers for different generations. Among them sits 712 Congress Ave., a striking Victorian Italianate gothic edifice set across the street from the Paramount Theater. This historic structure holds ties to the Civil War and the city’s 18th-century way of living through one man: Walter Tips. Known later in life for his namesake hardware company, Tips housed his business along Congress Avenue years before contemporary skyscrapers loomed overhead.


It’s not The Walter Tips Company Building you’ll be itching to explore, though, during your supernatural romp through Austin. Instead, you’ll scope out a less imposing structure tied to Tips’ legacy in Austin. For as beautiful as the company building is, the German native lived comfortably in an ornate two-story Victorian initially built in 1876. It’s here where our curiosities peak, as whispers of otherworldly malevolence are believed to disturb those who step foot inside the former Tips residence. 


Once home to the Civil War veteran and the former site of a local bank, the Walter Tips House is said to be shrouded in unmistakable darkness. Who is responsible for the cloud that hangs heavy over the former abode, and what specters drive visitors away? The only real way to find out may be to walk through its front doors. 


Why is the Walter Tips House haunted? Why not ask him yourself and join us for an evening of otherworldly delights on one of Austin’s premier ghost tours with Austin Ghosts?


The Legacy of Mr. Walter Tips


Walter Tips isn’t a name known nationwide, but the German native left his mark on Texas over his 70 years of life. Born in Elberfield, Germany, in July 1841, Walter Tips came to the United States in his adolescence, living with his elder sister in New Braunfels after his father’s passing. At the cusp of his 20s, Tips’ life was interrupted by the outbreak of the Civil War. Enlisting as a volunteer of the Confederate Army, he served for the duration of the conflict and eventually earned the title of 2nd Lieutenant.


Only months after the war ended and Tips returned to New Braunfels, he got his first taste of business when he partnered with Wilhelm Clemens, Jr., to buy and sell goods as the Tips & Clemens firm. He followed in his brother Eduard’s footsteps, who had launched his own operation in 1857. When Eduard died in 1872, Tips and his partners purchased his Austin business and changed their enterprise to Walter Tips & Company. 


Twenty years after Eduard’s passing and nearly a decade after separating from his partnership to run The Walter Tips Company in Austin, Tips took on a larger role in Texas as the elected state senator. They even served as part of the State Penitentiary Commissions. 


For years, Tips remained a productive resident in Texas, living comfortably with his spouse, Johanna Mary Jane Pearce, and his five children. As joy and success seem to surround the Tips household, it’s surprising that an unknown entity stalks the family’s historic home. That is until you really start to dig into the family’s history.


Unexpected Deaths Hit the Tips Household


It takes a little research, as Tips’ life isn’t very well documented, but the hardware purveyor and his wife were reported to have suffered several tragedies while living in what’s now known as The Walter Tips House. 


Though Tips and Pearce had six children, only five survived beyond infancy. Born around 1869, Clara F. Tips was not long for the world, having passed at only four weeks old. Though the record of her passing is poorly kept, and a cause of death is unlisted, her death likely hit the family hard. It at least hit hard enough to pause the family’s growth seemingly. The couple welcomed Julia and Walter Jr. to the family in 1867 and 1868, respectively. Their next child, Laura, wasn’t born until 1872.


Sadly, Clara wouldn’t be the last death suffered by the family. Sixteen years later, Walter Jr. passed away at 16 years old. Just like his sister, the cause of death was never listed, leaving us only to speculate what sinister forces ripped a teenager from this world.


The tragic passing of Tips’ children left a stain on the family’s legacy, but there was one more shocking death for them to suffer through — that of Walter Sr. himself. In 1911, a death announcement ran in a local paper for the 70-year-old patriarch. Though Tips had suffered from angina pectoris years prior to his passing, he was reported to have been “brighter and more optimistic than usual” leading up to his sudden and unexpected death. 


Could the spirit of Walter Tips be the ghost angrily stalking the halls of his former residence? If so, there may be a good reason beyond his sudden passing for the malevolence behind his presence.


The Tips Residence is Relocated


For 64 years, the Tips family residence remained at its original location across from the Bremond Block. Nearly 14 years after Walter Tips’ passing, the home was sold to Theo P. Meyer, another local businessman whose legacy is even harder to pinpoint than that of the former hardware salesman. 


Meyer’s importance to the haunting of Walter Tips House is relatively unknown, leaving one last theory as to why the elder Tips or any of its former residents may fuel a heaviness throughout the former abode. 


In 1975, 11 years after Meyer passed away and left the home vacant, the city scheduled it for demolition. Having just celebrated its 100th year, it seemed wrong to completely eradicate its lengthy history. So, before the demolition could start, Franklin Savings Association purchased the building and started restorations. It would be the second time the home was remodeled, but this time, the FSA sought to move the home’s location.


Though the home remained intact during the movie, it’s not unthinkable that any member of the Tips family who grew up across from the Bemond Block would be displeased with the new location. Their memories are tampered with by an unknown party, and they may be confused, especially after the restoration.


Explore the Haunted History of Austin


Whoever haunts The Walter Tips House is a spectral spectacle of Austin, but far from the only one. The central Texas city is ripe for a haunting experience as you visit the glamorous remnants of The Driskill or the lost widow of the Paramount Theater.

For a deeper look at some of Austin’s most infamous haunts and more of Texas’ most haunted locations, visit our blog and check out our socials on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Don’t miss out on an unforgettable evening — book your Austin Ghost Tour tonight!