Hotel Ella (formerly The Mansion at Judges’ Hill)

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Hotel Ella (formerly The Mansion at Judges’ Hill)

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Hotel Ella is a four-star hotel and one of over a dozen award-winning upscale restaurants & businesses owned by the prolific Austin based hospitality management and development company, New Waterloo. The others are South Congress Hotel, Sway, La Condesa, Le Politique, Otaka, Watertrade, Café No Sé, Il Brutto, La Matta, Central Standard, Mañana, and Hotel Ella’s restauarant, The Goodall - of course named after Ella’s husband. New Waterloo also owns event spaces Fair Market & Malverde, as well as the tiny 9 hole golf course, Butler Pitch & Putt.
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What everyone knows

Hotel Ella is one of Austin’s premier boutique hotels that also happens to have a rich and illustrious history.

What they don't tell you

In 1910, Goodall asked Ella if she would rather take a trip around the world, or have renovations done to the house.  She chose both!  Before all of the renovations took place, Goodall contacted the Vanderbilt family to the name of the stone carver who made the beautiful columns on their home in North Carolina.  After getting the name and searching for where he may find the artisan, he learned that the carver had been jailed for public drunkenness, in of all places, Austin, Texas.  The master stone carver was paroled by Goodall and lived in the basement of the home while he built the two story sandstone columns that on the East and South sides of the house. 

Do it like a local

I recommend you order the “Blunderbuss” cocktail at the quaint parlor bar around the corner from the lobby. It is named after one of Goodall Wooten’s firearms. It is a short, large caliber barrel which is flared at the muzzle and fires high caliber bullets. You can actually see one as it is displayed above the fireplace in the parlor room. In fact, Goodall was an avid pistol collector and owned one of the nation’s finest firearms collections. His world-renowned collection now resides at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, just three blocks away. His collection amassed approximately 3,000 guns!

For the History Buffs

Hotel Ella was the former estate of Goodall Wooten and his wife Ella Newsome. Goodall’s dad Thomas Dudley Wooten was one of the founders of nearby University of Texas, and purchased the land in 1878, on which the stylish boutique hotel sits. The one acre of land was on the corner of Magnolia St. and St. Bernard, which is now the corner of Rio Grande and Martin Luther King St.  It is one of Austin’s original landmark estates. Goodall Wooten married Ella Newsome on October 5, 1897.  Following the couples marriage, Ella’s father hired renown Dallas architect, Charles O’Connell, to design a home on the property as a wedding gift to the couple. Goodall H. Wooten was the son of Thomas Wooten and, like his father, was a successful doctor.  Graduating from the University of Texas, Goodall  remained an active alumni.  Goodall later went on to become president of the Austin Chamber of Commerce from 1926 - 1937. Ella Newsome Wooten was one of the first women to attend the University of Texas.  Ella was known for her extensive gardens and became Austin’s foremost azalea-grower.  It has been said that she was the first to plant azaleas in Austin and her garden grew to 1,800 bushes.  This garden was considered one of the floral showcases of the city.  Ella was politically active and became the first woman to serve on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors.  She was also a long time leader in Red Cross activities.  Ella received a medal for her contributions to the Red Cross during WWI and clocked over 8,000 volunteer hours in WWII. The building has served many purposes since passing out of the Wooten family in 1944, such as a student residence hall, a chemical dependency treatment center, and a former luxury hotel called “The Mansion at Judges’ Hill”, although technically the structure does not sit in the old Judge's Hill neighborhood. It became Hotel Ella in 2013. The hotel offers 47 guest rooms, a cabana-lined pool, and a beautifully crafted wrap-around veranda overlooking the front lawn. A diverse collection of Texas Modernist works grace the hotel grounds. The Greek-revival style mansion was built in 1900. The original Wooten home was not quite as grand as it is today, originally a classic Greek Revival structure with a central entry way and identical adjoining rooms on each side.  The second story contained a sitting room, four bedrooms, a bathroom, and Dr. Goodall Wooten’s gun room.  The third floor was attic space, while the basement was used as a game room and storage space.   Once the expansion and exterior additions to the home were completed, Ella decided to do some interior revisions as well.  In 1925, she contacted the Dallas based company Neiman-Marcus to redecorate the home at a cost of $10,000, which today equates to roughly one million dollars. Matt Lankes is the photographer responsible for all of the large black and white portraits located in the Parlor and Lobby.  Matt was born and raised in Austin, Texas and grew up watching his dad take pictures for the Austin American Statesman.  After attending St. Edward’s University, Lankes immediately began taking photographs professionally.  Lankes has worked for HBO, Fox Searchlight, Texas Monthly, and Warner Brothers just to name a few.  Some of his work resides permanently in the National Portrait Gallery at the Smithsonian, as well as, the Witliff Collections at Texas State University. The photos are of Willie Nelson, Molly Ivins/Liz Carpenter/Sarah Weddington, Jeremy Irons, Viggo Mortensen, Pinetop Perkins, Charlie Sexton, Billy Joe Shaver, and The Flatlanders.
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