Front door with Texas Historical Marker
Historical Photo of Wooten Home-circa 1915
Historical Photo of the Wooten Home (circa 1960)
Dining room mantle-attributed to Mansbendel
Living room mantle-attributed to Mansbendel
Kitchen mantle-attributed to Mansbendel
Overdoor and detail woork in pine-Attributed to PM
Goodall & Ella WootenYear:
NeoclassicalAreas of Significance:
AustinThe Wooten Mansion
(Now known as "The Mansion at Judges’ Hill" a boutique hotel in Austin, Texas)
The origins of the Austin, Texas, hotel Mansion at Judges’ Hill can be traced back to 1846 when the land was first granted to Adam Maag by the State of Texas, just one year after it was admitted to the union. In 1878, Thomas Dudley Wooten, one of the founders of the University of Texas, bought one acre of land at the corner of Magnolia Street and San Bernard in Austin, Texas, spending all of $2,500. In 1897, when Wooten’s son Goodall married Miss Ella Newsome, Ella’s father William Barnes Newsome built a house on the property as a wedding gift. The young couple became its first residents in 1900. Designed by Dallas architect Charles O’Connell, the home’s original price tag was $8,100.
The couple chose the southeast corner of the Wooten property as the location of their new home, which, at that time, was considered to be on the outskirts of Austin. The property surrounding the house included an entire city block, bounded by present-day Martin Luther King, Rio Grande, 21st and Pearl Streets, until the Wooten’s sold half of their block. The yard was further diminished with the widening of MLK Boulevard, removing a large portion of the front lawn. The original address of the house was 700 Magnolia Street, until Magnolia Street was renamed 19th Street and later Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. In the mid-1970s, the address of the house was reassigned to the cross street Rio Grande, originally called San Bernard, and the current address is listed as 1900 Rio Grande.
The original Wooten home was characteristic Greek Revival with a central entry foyer and identical adjoining rooms to each side. The foyer was planned to be the most elegant in the house. A north wall of tinted colonettes, anthemion motif capitols pilasters and deep cornices make it easily the most elaborate. The original second floor contained a sitting room, four bedrooms, Dr. Wooten’s gun room and a bathroom. The third floor was attic space while the basement was used for servant sleeping quarters, game rooms and storage.
Renovations in 1910 changed the simple house into a grand mansion. The house’s exterior took on a new look with the addition of doubled two story sandstone ionic columns on ashlar pedestals on the east and south sides of the house. Dr. Wooten called the Vanderbilts to obtain the name of the master stonecarver who made the beautiful columns on Biltmore, their North Carolina mansion. He learned that the artisan was jailed in, of all places, Austin, Texas; he had been incarcerated for drunkenness. The stonecarver was paroled to Dr. Wooten and lived in the Wooten basement during the time that he handcarved the columns for the house.
In addition to the columns, the plain hip roof received new dormers, opening up the attic level. Originally these windows were only decorative, for the attic was not used. The west end of the house was also expanded, changing the sitting room into a new library on the ground floor and creating another bedroom and bathroom on the second floor. To give the home’s interior a new revived spirit Mrs. Wooten hired Neiman Marcus in 1929 to redecorate the home at a cost of $10,000, today’s estimate of one million dollars. The Wooten home was the first in Austin to have wall-to-wall carpeting.
Legacy of the Goodall Wooten Family
The house was quite a showplace in its day and soon became an Austin landmark. Goodall and Ella both had a passion for life and they used the house as a fountain for new ideas. Ella pursued her art of hospitality in an unequaled way. “You always know you are discovering something charming and new in her dishes and her social events,” Social Editor, Austin American Statesman Newspaper, 1922. Ella’s opulent taste was also apparent when Goodall offered her the choice of either a trip around the world or stone columns for the house. She chose the columns.
Mrs. Wooten, a prolific gardener, planted the first azalea bushes in Austin. At the height of its beauty, the Wooten garden contained over 1,800 azaleas, along with hundreds of tulips, pansies and zinnias. A row of majestic crepe myrtle trees from Ella’s era still grace the courtyard behind the house.
While Ella kept busy with her hobbies, Dr. Wooten led an active life of his own. After graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University in New York in 1895, he entered into the practice of medicine with his father and brother, Joe Sil Wooten. Dr. Wooten was also active in the community as president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce and the Seton Infirmary, and a member of the Masons Mount Bonnell Lodge and various medical associations. Like his father, he loved the University of Texas and was known as one of the school’s most loyal and active alumni.
Goodall was also known as an avid pistol collector. Owning one of the nation’s finest firearms collection, one of the second floor rooms in the mansion was entirely dedicated to showcasing his prized possessions. Wooten’s world-renown collection now resides at the Harry Ransom Research Center on the University of Texas campus, just three blocks away from the Mansion.
Mansbendel's work was believed to be added during one of the renovations most likely in the 1930's. Visit http://mansionatjudgeshill.com/About-the-Mansions