The John B. and Ruth Pope House, also known as the Rio Grande House is now owned by T3, (The Think Tank) an advertising agency in Austin. It was designed and built as a residence by A.O. Watson for his brother-in-law John Burwell Pope and his wife Ruth. In 1922 extensive remodeling was done and Mansbendel was then commissioned to carve mantel pieces, decorative moldings and stair rail, and to design a wrought iron fan light over the entrance door and light fixtures throughout the house.
The Adam-style living room and George III dining room contain a rich variety of Mansbendel’s artistry.The home’s Giant Order portico with veranda below is derived from the Connecticut Pavilion at the World’s Colombian Exposition of 1893. The rich interiors with fine Peter Mansbendel woodcarving and ornamental plasterwork are among the finest of the early 20th century in Austin.
“Many properties in certain Austin neighborhoods were razed in the 1950s and 60s when they were unappreciated, but the Pope House and adjacent properties have remained anchors of the Judges Hill Neighborhood,” says Peter Flagg Maxson, Heritage Society Awards Committee member and architectural historian.
“In a city of constant change, the John and Ruth Pope House is a property with true architectural and historical significance and retains its overall integrity to an unusual degree,” notes Maxson.