One of the most prized houses in Austin’s Hyde Park Historic District is the home of Peter Mansbendel, which he built in 1922. In 1934, he designed and built this house next door as a wedding present for his daughter Valerie and her husband WilliamT. Williams, Jr. It was a gift from Valerie’s parents and her grandparents, Adele and Monroe Shipe, who lived around the corner. (Shipe developed Hyde Park in 1891 as the first planned development in Austin.) Mansbendel carved the faces of the bride and groom into the stone on the facade of the house and decorated the interior with his wood carvings. The living room hasfeatures that are almost identical to Mansbendel’s own house: vaulted ceilings 15 feet high with faux beams and a chandelier carved of wood and treated to mimic wrought iron, and tall casement windows. The living room floors are wide plank Bastrop long-leaf pine, with inlays to suggest butterfly and peg joinery. The windows have round curtain tiebacks with silhouettes of domestic scenes. In an arched recess above the fireplace is acarved a panel of a woman with the words “gratia plena” (thanks for all blessings). Carvings of acanthus and caricatures decorate the tops of doors and a built-in bookcase.
Up one step, a curved passage leads to the dining room, which is paneled in pine with a carved rope molding at the top of the walls. The ceiling beams are carved and painted with a flower motif. A built in hutch is made of curly long-leaf pine that is carved along the sides and topped by a della robia swag. Four sconces like ships lanterns are the source of light.
Iron work by Peter Mansbendel’s friend Fortunat Weigl, added interesting touches: the weathervane at the front peak of the roof that portrays “Peregrinus” the patron saint of the University of Texas Law School, (particularly fitting as Williams was a lawyer), as well as the andirons and tool rack for the fireplace and the hardware on the entrance gate and front door.