Frederick Ernst Ruffini
Frederick Ernst Ruffini, architect, was reared in Cleveland, Ohio. He received his architectural training there and gained considerable architectural experience in Cleveland before he moved to Austin in 1877 as partner to Jasper N. Preston. The partnership lasted two years, after which time Ruffini practiced alone. When his wife Elsie died in October 1885, they had three surviving children; F. E. Ruffini died less than one month later, on November 16, 1885.
In his advertisements Ruffini listed as examples of his work many courthouses and jails as well as public and commercial buildings. Most of his courthouses have been replaced by later structures. The mansard roofed courthouse of his design in Blanco was built in 1885 and is still standing. His outstanding buildings in Austin included the Millett Opera House; Texas School for the Deaf; the Hancock Building on West Pecan Street (now West Sixth Street), where Ruffini had his offices; the Hancock Opera House; and the most important of all, the Old Main Building of the University of Texas. That structure was begun in 1882, but only the west wing was completed when Ruffini died in November 1885. The central tower and last wing were completed according to his plans following his death.
A number of architectural drawings and watercolors of building specifications by Ruffini were on file in the Texas State Archives. Among the collection of drawings were plans for nine courthouses in Georgetown, Franklin, San Marcos, Sulphur Springs (Hopkins County), Quitman, Longview, Corsicana, Blanco, and Henderson.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Austin Daily Statesman, November 17, 18, 1885. F. E. Ruffini Papers, Specifications, 1882, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin. Ruffini Papers, Texas State Library, Austin. Roxanne Williamson, Victorian Architecture in Texas (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1967). Excerpts from Article Written By: Drury Blake Alexander