In 1997, the family of Lyndon Baines Johnson acquired the Norwood Tower. Luci Baines Johnson and her husband, Ian Turpin, chose to make the Norwood Tower their home as well as their offices. The empty-nest couple remodeled the 14th and 15th floors for their residence in 1998-99, converting the quaint Gothic clock-house on the 15th floor into a tiny chapel. The presence of two 5,000 gallon water tanks on the 15th floor, which originally provided water pressure for the entire building, made it possible for Luci to add a raised lap pool with a waterfall, surrounded by aquatic plants. The 14th floor suite, which is cruciform in shape, opens to large terraces on each of the building’s four corners. With the help of master gardeners, Luci completely designed the landscaping to include native plants from five topographies of Texas.
To keep their home grounded in its Texas heritage, Luci and Ian chose building materials indigenous to Texas – limestone, mesquite, and curly maple.
“Living downtown in the Norwood Tower is our commitment to the future of Austin. I believe every downtown is the physical, spiritual and economic heart of a community. It is our passionate desire to be a part of the marvelous parade revitalizing and recapturing the soul of this city we love. Living in Austin is a gift to all of our lives. It is our family’s joy and privilege to give back to the city we love.” – Luci Baines Johnson
Luci Baines Johnson
As the youngest daughter of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, Luci Baines Johnson has been in the public spotlight since she was a teenager. Today she is Chairman of the Board of LBJ Asset Management Partners Ltd. (LAMP) and Vice President of BusinesSuites – a nationwide office business center owned by Luci and Ian, who serves as CEO of the company. Founded in 1989, BusinesSuites has 12 locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, and Baltimore, Columbia and Owings Mills, MD.
Luci and Ian married in 1984 and began their life together in Toronto, merging Luci’s four children and Ian’s son into one family. Today they share nine grandchildren. Shortly before their return to Austin in 1992, Johnson bought the 1938 Brown Building. Intrigued by downtown living, she converted the building into Austin’s first downtown residential lofts, reusing everything that had any historic, aesthetic or environmental worth.
Johnson makes dozens of speeches each year on behalf of many of the same causes important to her father and mother. She serves the community in a number of professional and public capacities through her work on behalf of SafePlace, Children’s Hospital, Seton Hospital, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, KLRU Public Television, The LBJ Library, and numerous other local and national organizations. Luci is a Trustee Emerita of Boston University and was also a member of the Board of Directors of LBJS Broadcasting Company until the spring of 2003, when the Johnson family sold its interest in the local radio stations after 60 years.
Ian Turpin is currently President of LBJ Asset Management Partners, Ltd., which manages public and private equity portfolios for private clients. Ian served as president and a director of The LBJ Holding Company and various Johnson family affiliates from 1992 to 2003. These businesses included broadcasting, real estate, private equity investments and diversified portfolios. Ian is also CEO of BusinesSuites, LLP and is on the board of Texas Capital Bancshares, Inc. Prior to moving to Texas, Ian had an 18-year international banking career, which included extensive management and financial experience as an executive with several multi-national banks. Ian received his Masters Degree in Business in the U.K, his birthplace.
History of the Penthouse
The Norwood Tower penthouse was the first of its kind in Austin. It was Thomas J. Butler’s wife Hazel who conceived the idea of designing a private residential penthouse on the 15th floor. The eight rooms of the ‘Sky Terrace’ opened onto a large, landscaped patio that faced a miniature gothic clock-house for the original clock, which chimed and kept time for many years before becoming too expensive to maintain. The Butlers enjoyed their panoramic view of the city from 1931 until 1966, when Mr. Butler could no longer climb the stairs required to reach the penthouse; the elevator went only as far as the 14th floor at the time.
The Butler family history is intricately interwoven with the development of Austin’s business community. Butler’s first wife, Josephine Robinson, was a granddaughter of both John Henry Robinson and John Bremond, Sr, both of whom were progenitors of significant business families. And T.J. Butler’s father founded Butler Brick in 1873. The company mined clay from a site now in the Zilker Park soccer fields and hauled it in buckets hung from mule-drawn lines to kilns on the site now occupied by Austin High School. T.J. Butler succeeded his older brother as president of Elgin-Butler Brick in 1948.