Stephen F. Austin himself once owned the 12-acre property of Laguna Gloria, intending to build a regal home there. Remnants of campsites attest to the presence of Native Americans in the area. In 1914, the property was purchased by the owner of the newspaper The Austin American, Hal Sevier and wife, Clara Driscoll. The couple named it Laguna Gloria after a family ranch called “La Gloria”. Historians believe Clara and Hal used the word lagoon due to its proximity to Lake Austin.
Clara was an avid gardener and spent years designing and terracing the gardens of the “to give an Old World touch to an incomparably beautiful Texas landscape.” She eventually became one of the founding members and first president of the Violet Crown Garden Club, an organization still dedicated to the beautification of Austin through the cultivation of flowers and shrubs.
Mrs. Driscoll also augmented the landscape of Laguna Gloria with sculptures and historic artifacts which remain today, such as a wishing well imported from Tuscany, a mission bell, and statues of the Four Seasons. Interesting note? The gates adorning the property’s 35th Street entrance Clara purchased from the State of Texas. They originally protected the two entrances of the Capitol grounds!
In 1943, Clara Driscoll donated Laguna Gloria to be used as an art museum. “I have always felt that Austin, being the capital and a city of great beauty, is the logical place where [a statewide art center] should be established. I am happy now its use may bring pleasure in the appreciation of art to the people of Texas.”
Renamed the Austin Museum of Art in 1992, Clara’s museum built a 5,300-square-foot art school. By 2000, twenty-five thousand students per year were attending the school! A restoration campaign was initiated, and soon the restored 1916 Italianate-style Driscoll Villa and garden became the well-known destination for community events, educational programs, weddings, and exhibitions that it is today.
For more information on the colorful history of Laguna Gloria and the Austin Museum of Art, or to register for its wide array of spring art classes for adults and children three years and older, call (512) 323-6280 or visit its website. Class registration for the Spring Session opens January 14th and closes May 20th.
Visiting Laguna Gloria? The street address is 3809 West 35th Street, Austin, TX 78703.
The Austin REALTORS® at Regent Property Group support local non-profit organizations like the Austin Museum of Art at Laguna Gloria. They also help home-buyers stay on top of the latest in Tarrytown real estate trends. If you’re on the lookout for an Austin home for sale, check out Austin Home Search!