Austin Renovators Share Stories of Rebirth, Restored Purpose

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

 “Without our past, how are we going to know it’s us?” Quoting one of the tenant women in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, Wayne Bell, Professor Emeritus of the University of Texas School of Architecture, set the tone for the panel discussion at the 2015 Angelina Eberly Luncheon this past January 23rd, 2015 at Austin’s Driskill Hotel. Bell and an all-star panel of architects, designers, and renovators of historic Austin properties shared first-hand experiences of what it was like to replace the Governor’s Mansion after it burned, rescue from demolition the Driskill Hotel and Walter Tips Home, and restore for generations the Hirshfeld Mansion & Cottage.

The Angelina Eberly Luncheon, held each winter at Austin’s historic Driskill Hotel, is the signature event of the Austin History Center Association. The luncheon brings together close to 200 guests, business associates, coworkers and city leaders; as well as newcomers and longtime residents, who share their love of Austin history at an event the Austin American‐Statesman has called “An Austin tradition.”


 Who Is Angelina Eberly?

Angelina Belle Peyton Eberly, heroine of Texas’ “Archives War,” was an astute Austin innkeeper in the early days of the Republic of Texas. She became directly involved in a political skirmish that had lasting consequences. In December, 1842, Sam Houston announced that Austin was no longer the Capital of Texas, and that his namesake town, Houston, was.   He dispatched the Texas Rangers to Austin with orders to Texas Land Commissioner Thomas William “Peg Leg” Ward to remove the Republic of Texas archives from Austin and move them east.  The furtive effort was spotted by Eberly, who lit a town cannon, which alerted citizens of the theft. Local Austinites chased the wagons north into Williamson County, where the rangers were forced at gunpoint to surrender the archives. “The Archives War” reinforced Austin’s standing as the capital of Texas and was good PR for “Peg Leg,” who was later elected three times as mayor of Austin.

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