Grudges and Ghouls: The Conspiracies Behind Frost Bank Tower


By Tara Phipps

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The downtown Austin skyline is something to stop and stare at. The buildings that make up the city reach to several different heights and create a beautiful aesthetic that would look great in the background of any picture. At night, it transforms into bright colors that pull the eye like a magnetic force. Most downtown cityscapes have this effect, but somewhere across downtown Austin, that beautiful view may have a dark origin.


From its unique shape that seems to mimic a crown at the top of the structure, to the thick blue glass that makes up most of its exterior, Frost Bank is one of the most recognizable buildings in downtown and the only building with a connection to the Illuminati (allegedly).


The History of the Frost Bank Tower


Photo by Jesus Angel

Opened in 2004, the tower stands at 515 feet tall. At the time, it was the tallest building in the city. Since then, only four buildings have surpassed its height. No building in the city, however, has surpassed its logos — which are 420 feet high on the tower.

Frost Bank Tower received a fair amount of criticism during its construction from art critics and columnists alike. John Kelso, who was a long-time columnist for the Austin-American Statesman offered satirical criticism, and wrote the shape reminded him of  “a pair of nose clippers”.


Despite the initial judgment, though, Frost Bank Tower has gone on to win many awards, including “Best New Building” and “Best Architecture.” 


The tower is such a staple of the Austin skyline that it’s featured on the top of every Texas driver’s license.


Frost Bank seems innocent enough at first. It’s just a bold design with the usual praises and criticisms that comes with any new skyscraper. Until you take a step back and look at it from a new angle — literally.



Photo by Jesus Angel

Looking at the building head-on, it is just like any other tower trying to be unique in the skyline, but when looking directly at a corner, those tallest logos become eyes, and the building becomes a body. Before you know it, you’re looking at a futuristic owl.


Local Austinites noticed the animal in the glass so much they nicknamed the Frost Bank Tower the “owl building”.


The animal shape has lent itself to a couple of different rumors over the years. From grudges to ghouls there’s no shortage of a story to go along with Austin’s famous “owl building”.


The Grudge

“Rice Owl” by The Rocketeer is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


Upon the realization that an owl lies hidden in the corners of the tower, several Austin residents connected this to Sammy the Owl, Rice University’s mascot. 

The story goes that a high school graduate who was hopeful of getting into the University of Texas at Austin got rejected. He ended up going to Rice and later became one of the architects for the Frost Bank Tower. As a slight to UT and their longhorn mascot, Bevo, the man ended up designing the tower so that an owl would always be looking over the city.


After some investigation, it turned out none of the architects working on the project were associated with Rice, and so the grudge became one of those myths people chattered about on the streets.


With one theory disproved, leave it to Austin to find another to take its place.


The Ghoul

“Owl” by Fuzzy T is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 

The owl has a long, mixed history. It was once connected to evil energy because it was a creature of the night. However, a certain secretive organization refers to the owl as a revered creature of vigilance. 

That’s right, not only is the owl Rice University’s mascot, but also the Illuminati’s.


This is especially unfortunate when it’s also the animal connected to Moloch, a pagan god people would sacrifice children to in exchange for financial blessings. This sacrificial ceremony supposedly still goes on today, but that’s another story.


The rumors go the Illuminati used the owl-like structure to offer public allegiance to Moloch. There’s not much logic behind the claim, but over the years the story has built momentum and suggests a darker past for one of the most distinct buildings in Austin’s skyline.

But Why?

“Serfs Up ! Illuminati All Seeing Eye” by Serfs UP ! Roger Sayles is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.

Even if the rumors were true, and the Illuminati was so boldly putting itself out there in Texas’s state capital, the next thing to figure out is why. 


There’s no clear answer to that question, although research on why they would display symbolism, in general, helps connect the reason behind Frost Bank Tower’s public display with other alleged depictions.


Several theories behind any type of public connection to the Illuminati fall under some form of mind control. Whether it be in rock songs played backward or Disney movies like Alice in Wonderland, the imagery and sounds usually come with the promise of conditioning for mind control. 


A building probably couldn’t do that.

A more likely explanation would be that the public allegiance is a territorial marking of some sort, laying claim to a piece of Austin so that civilians know something bigger than them is always watching over, and always in control.