Michael Lyon United Bank Tower Photographs Collection
An Inventory of the Collection
Michael Lyon was an architectural photographer based in Dallas, Texas and was active in the 1970s and 1980s.
The United Bank Tower, located at 400 West 15th Street, Austin, Texas, originally housed United Bank of Texas. United Bank folded in June of 1987 and its furniture and other equipment were auctioned in November of that year. Later Wells Fargo used the building and in 2014 Moody Bank took over the property. The building was designed by Zapalac Associates.
501 black and white photographs by Michael Lyon document the groundbreaking and construction of the United Bank Tower located at 400 West 15th Street (at the corner of 15th and Guadalupe streets) in Austin, Texas from 1979 to 1981. The photographs depict every stage of the construction process beginning with the groundbreaking ceremonies. At the groundbreaking event were bank officials, including Ruben Johnson, and prominent citizens, such as Mayor Carole Keeton McClellan and Dorsey B. Hardeman. Lyon photographed the construction process approximately twice a month over the year-and-a-half project. The construction photos include a variety of shots, from aerial views taken from cranes to close-ups of construction workers, and they also document the neighboring parking garage. The various types of construction materials, equipment and building techniques used are all clearly visible from the photos. The building is primarily seen from the exterior, but some interior views are included, especially among photos taken on April 6, 1981 and later which show finishing touches of the construction as well as bank employees working in offices, safety deposit boxes, and a security office. The folder of prints from May 15, 1981 includes shots of a video crew and portraits of bank executives, including president Robert Fry. The photos taken in July 1981 depict the installation of the large sign on the roof. Many photographs also include views of surrounding roads and buildings, such as Guadalupe and 15th streets, the Lemens Finance Company building at 1509 Guadalupe Street, St. Martin's Lutheran Church at 606 West 15th Street, the 7-11 at 408 West 15th Street, the Capitol building dome in the distance, and the downtown skyline. The photos taken on January 23, 1981 are all aerials which include skylines and views of the surrounding area. There do not appear to be any photos of the bank vault. Items #086-087 are contact sheets but there are no corresponding negatives for these.
Restrictions on Use
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
The photographs were owned by Ruben Johnson, chairman of the board of directors of United Bank. He left them, as part of his estate, to his church upon his death. The church then donated the photographs to the Austin History Center.
Michael Lyon United Bank Tower Photographs Collection (AR.2014.053). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/2013/013
Donation Date: March 18, 2013
Processing and encoding by Nicole Davis/January 2015.
Detailed Description of the Collection