Heritage Society of Austin Flower Hill Records
An Initial Inventory of the Collection
Reverend Richard Kelley Smoot, his wife Sarah Jane Graham, and their children Asher and Lawrence, moved to Austin, Texas in 1876 and started construction on what would come to be called "Flower Hill" in 1877. Smoot, the First Southern Presbyterian minister, originally planned the home as a four room house with an outdoor kitchen. The house grew into a fourteen room, four hall and four porch estate that would become a gathering place for "relatives, artists, students, professors, and religious leaders, to live, study and work."
In 1973, Miss Jane Smoot, the last of the Smoot family, formally donated Flower Hill and its contents to the Heritage Society of Austin (HSA), with the understanding that they would open the home as a historic home museum and she would retain a life estate. In 1995 the HSA submitted a Master Plan for the estate to their Board of Directors outlining three primary uses for Flower Hill: a house museum; public and outreach programs; and offices for HSA and museum administrative support. This required that Smoot relinquish her interest in the house and move into a cottage on the Smoot property, which she did in 1997. In 1999, as a result of a disagreement between Smoot and the HSA, the parties moved forward to consummate a transaction that returned portions of the Smoot property and the home and its contents to Jane Smoot. In 2003, the Flower Hill Foundation was established. In February 2016, the Flower Hill Foundation hired an Executive Director and transformed from a non-operating private foundation to a 501(c)(3) Private Operating Foundation to preserve and share the history of the Smoot family by maintaining a space for individualism, artistic expression, and civic engagement at the Flower Hill historic homestead museum.
SOURCE: Flower Hill Foundation website https://www.flowerhillfoundation.org; Accessed 2017 May 30.
After the Heritage Society of Austin (HSA) returned the Flower Hill property to Jane Smoot in 1999 the records created while working on the house museum project were donated to the Austin History Center. The collection contains administrative and financial records, correspondence, planning documents, photographs, design records, architectural drawings and building assessments, real property records, inventories and Smoot family biographical materials including oral history recordings and family photographs, related to the Smoot Family House Museum Project conducted by the Heritage Society of Austin (now Preservation Austin) in the 1990s. The records are arranged into two series: Smoot House Museum Project Records and Smoot Family Papers.
The Smoot House Museum Project Records series (1916, 1968-1998) contains the administrative records of the HSA Flower Hill Committees and correspondence with Jane Smoot; proposals and master plans created by the Heritage Society of Austin; project records and architectural drawings of Bell, Klein & Hoffman created during the process of writing A Preservation Maintenance Plan for the R. K. Smoot Home; recommendations and conceptual plans from consultants; site plan, zoning research and applications; records of building and property improvements; historic landmark applications; and property deeds and appraisals. In addition, there are materials related to the fundraising efforts of the HSA and research files concerning developing a house museum; a history of the Smoot home with descriptions and inventory of its contents; and photographs of the buildings, grounds and items in the house dated from the 1980s and 1990s.
The Smoot Family Papers series (1950-1997) consists of a varied assortment of correspondence, writings, lists, subject files and oral histories documenting the Smoot family. The oral history materials make up the majority of the series and contain recordings and transcripts conducted with Jane Smoot by several different interviewers during the 1980s and 1990s. Also included are family photographs, some of which appear to be reproductions of the glass and film negatives and prints made by Lawrence Kelley Smoot between about 1888 and 1917 that are held at the University of Texas Briscoe Center for American History in the Smoot Graham Family Papers.
Open to all users
The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
Heritage Society of Austin Flower Hill Records (AR.2000.018). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1970/026
Donation Date: 2000
Initial processing by Sue Soy in 2006-2007. Portions of the collection returned to the Flower Hill Foundation and remaining materials rearranged in 2017 by Molly Hults. See donor file for details.
Detailed Description of the Collection