EP 6: The Clay Pit - Part I
*SPOILER ALERT: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 6. Before reading, listen to The Clay Pit - Part I here. Afterward, feel free to check out this "Behind-the-Episode" blog for additional info and photos! And visit our Patreon page for more extras!
Sidewalk running down Guadalupe toward 16th St
In January, pretty fresh off the investigation at The Tavern, I found myself standing outside this historic building at the corner of 16th and Guadalupe. It was cold, late, and dark.
I kept thinking to myself, I don't know if I can handle another case like The Tavern. It really put Sara and me through the wringer. However, I'd been here before. Several times. It felt a bright and full of energy every time I'd dined here. The food was delicious, the service top notch, and the architecture and design of the building was always fun to admire. So I had hopes that this case might be a bit lighter than the previous one.
16th & Guadalupe Junction - The Clay Pit
As I stood on the street waiting a bit before going in, the atmosphere was eerie. It's rare to be downtown and see the streets empty and quiet. However, that's exactly how it was this night.
I was alone this night. I wanted to meet with a few folks who were going to stick around after closing to tell me about their personal encounters.
This Austin Landmark plaque is just to the left of front door entrance
This photo and the two below are framed and displayed in the Wine Room of the Clay Pit. These are images of the Bertram building sometime in the late 1800's to possibly early 1900's. The dates of these photos aren't certain, but if you look at the photo above, you can tell this one dates back further. The building is smaller. In the photos below, the building's size more closely matches the current size of the Clay Pit restaurant today.
What I've been able to dig up currently is that German immigrant Rudolph Bertram arrived in Austin and began his trading post in 1853. I haven't been able to confirm exact dates or location of this trading post yet, however, research shows that Bertram purchased the building at 1601 Guadalupe St. in 1872 and opened his general merchandise store and saloon on the 1st floor in 1880. I'm not sure if the upstairs existed or was added on later, but it did serve as living quarters for Mr. Bertram and his family. I intend on uncovering more facts in The Clay Pit - Part II after I visit the Austin History Center and also investigate the location with Sara.
In the meantime, let's take a look at The Clay Pit and some of the faces to the voices you heard in this episode!
The host station is the first thing you see when you walk in. It's just to your left. Just past it you can see the stairs leading the 2nd floor.
Dread was working the downstairs bar the night I arrived. This bar is directly to your right as soon at you enter the building. This bar is where both Dread and Bali recalled stories involving an unknown assailant throwing rocks at employees.
The main dining hall just to the left of the host station. You can see the sides of the brick staircase on the right which lead directly down into the cellar.
The stairway behind the host station that lead to the cellar. It's at the top of these stairs and around the host station that many of the staff have heard their name called by what they believe to be the Scarlet Lady.
The cellar of The Clay Pit. Straight ahead, behind the small cabinet with the plants atop it, half of an archway that's been bricked up. It's believed this was one of the tunnels - however, it's a lot lower to the ground. Perhaps the tunnel had stairs that went down to it that have been covered up now.
To my right, Mark during his interview down in the cellar. To my left, an unsung hero behind this episode - Alexis, the General Manager of The Clay Pit who helped coordinate my interviews and allowed us into the building many a late nights! Thanks Alexis!
Above is a photo Mark took with his phone the night of the incident with Ally down in the cellar during the photo shoot. Ally stands dressed as the Scarlet Lady preparing for her shoot. Little did she know she was about have an experience of her very own as the lights would eventually flicker and she would grow quite faint and ill.
Dread and I down in the cellar where the Scarlet Lady is said to make her presence known.