When faced with the task of choosing a location for The Victor Mourning’s recent photo shoot, we decided on the George W. Littlefield home, on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. We love Victorian architecture, and this elegant (and reportedly haunted) mansion proved to be an ideal setting for our new band photos, taken by Austin photographer, Will Branch.
The house was built in 1893 at a cost of $50,000 by George W. Littlefield—a Confederate officer, cattle baron, banker, and UT benefactor and Regent—for himself and his wife, Alice. (The couple, married in 1863, had two children who died in infancy.) They lived in the home until Major Littlefield died there on November 10, 1920; Alice continued to reside there until her death fifteen years later, and bequeathed the home to The University. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
The Littlefield mansion is, sadly, the only remaining structure of its era on a street it once shared with other grand Victorian homes. The home’s St. Louis brick exterior, stately marble columns and steps, intricate iron grillwork, eccentric unmatched turrets, wrap-around veranda, mosaic tiles, and stained glass windows provide the opulent and eclectic elements associated with high Victorian “Queen Anne” style. The extravagance continues throughout the interior, with decorative details including a grand staircase, elaborate woodwork, impressive chandeliers suspended from 14-foot ceilings, and multiple fireplaces—including one flanked by a pair of menacing griffins. Today, the house’s rather disheveled appearance only adds to its character.
Reports of strange occurrences, no doubt fueled by the structure’s distinctive presence, have resulted in its being labeled among Austin’s haunted places. Tales of hauntings often revolve around Alice Littlefield, who has been characterized as a “melancholic, depressive, agoraphobic woman who slowly and quietly went insane later in life.” Other stories suggest that “Major Littlefield locked Alice up in the attic when he was away so she would not be grabbed by Yankees who might be strolling by and oblivious to the fact that the Civil War was over. . . . [W]hile languishing in the attic she was assaulted by bats, and her shrieks of terror reverberate in the mansion to this day.” Still other accounts stress Alice’s “deep concern for her husband’s welfare and her fears for his safety when he was away. Her ghost is said to restlessly roam the attic, peering out the windows, watching for his return.” It has also been said that Alice’s ghost can sometimes be heard “banging out a chord or two on the old piano on the first floor.”
Although we had originally envisioned that the photos would be black and white, we found that the subtle terracotta and verdigris palette of the veranda complemented our monochromatic clothing beautifully. The combination of the exquisite location, soft afternoon light, and Will’s keen eye and talent as a photographer resulted in photos that reflect our visual aesthetic, allude to the band’s name, and evoke the dark, haunting nature of our music.