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Future Texas woodcarver born in Switzerland


On this day in 1883, Peter Heinrich Mansbendel was born in Basel, Switzerland. He was apprenticed to a woodcarver at the age of ten and studied in Switzerland, France, and England. He immigrated to America in 1907 and moved to Austin in 1911. During the 1920s and 1930s leading architects in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio would summon Mansbendel to put finishing touches on their most important projects. His fireplace mantels were especially popular. In addition to architectural detail work, he also made furniture and decorative household items. He frequently interpreted Texas themes, including historic persons, places, and events, as well as the flora and fauna of his adopted land. Among the most notable examples of his public work are the magnificent carved doors of the Spanish Governor's Palace and of Mission San José, both in San Antonio, and the portrait medallions of former University of Texas presidents located in the Texas Union on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

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