The William Sydney Porter House, or O. Henry Museum, is a late 1800’s Queen Anne-style cottage that William Sydney Porter and his wife rented when they lived in Austin in the 1890s. The house originally resided on 4th Street but was moved over a few blocks to 5th Street to keep it from being demolished in the 1930s. It is now a museum that hosts several artifacts of Porter’s and events honoring his legacy.
Porter moved to Austin in 1884 and met his future wife, Athol Estes Roach. Three years later they married and began their family. Porter worked at the Texas General Land Office for four years after his marriage. In 1891, Porter began a new job at the First National Bank of Austin as a bank teller and moved into the house we now know as the O. Henry House.
Porter worked at the bank for a few years while simultaneously producing a weekly humor magazine, The Rolling Stone. In 1894, a federal banking examiner found errors in Porter’s books, leading him to be charged with embezzlement. It is unclear if Porter actually stole money from the bank or if he was just a poor teller. In 1898, Porter entered a federal prison in Ohio. He served five years for embezzlement, and during this time, he created the pen name O. Henry. In the years after his release, he would go on to be a successful short story writer creating classics like The Gift of the Magi and The Duplicity of Hargraves.
The O. Henry Museum is free to visit. Visitors can explore the artifacts and materials from his life and work. The museum also hosts the O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championships, an annual event inspired by O. Henry’s famed wordplay.
Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, Noon-5PM