The Driskill Hotel

The Driskill Hotel has a long, colorful history beginning with its conception. The hotel was conceived and built by Confederate Army Col. Jesse Driskill, a cattleman. It was completed in 1886 at a cost of $400,000. Its four stories occupied almost half a block with three arched entryways on the south, east, and north sides. The hotel’s 60 rooms included 12 corner rooms with attached baths. The hotel boasted an open design to encourage airflow throughout the building and to keep it cool. Its primary feature was an open rotunda at the center that extended from the first to the fourth floors and culminated in a skylight. By 1888 Col. Jesse Driskill had lost his newly opened hotel to his brother-in-law, Jim “Doc” Day in a poker game.

In 1969, the Austin-American Statesman published an article titled, “The Driskill’s Fate Sealed” – assuring imminent demolition to make way for a modern glass-façade office building. The Heritage Society of Austin responded by rallying local citizens to save the city of Austin’s beloved landmark. Volunteers sold $10 stocks in an unofficial bake sale, raising more than $900,000 to purchase the property, holding off the wrecking ball by forming the largely citizen-owned non-profit Driskill Hotel Corporation, and had the hotel declared a National Historic Landmark in November 1969, assuring the hotel’s lasting presence in the city of Austin. The most recent renovation began in 1996 and reached a symbolic conclusion on December 31, 1999, with a grand reopening millennium celebration, though renovation efforts of individual areas have continued since then.

It was during this renovation period that Stanton Glass Studio became very involved in the rebirth of the Driskill’s interior. The owners clarion cry was that whatever we designed needed to appear as if it had been there since 1886 and that it should “tell a story, even if we had to invent one.” So goes the Driskill Dome. There never was a stained glass dome in the Driskill Hotel. Where it hangs now was originally a balcony open to the fourth floor allowing for cross ventilation. Stanton Glass conceived the dome, designed a mock up, and presented it to the owners, who upon seeing the presentation loved it and had to have it for their newly remodeled lobby.

We were tasked to design, fabricate, and install the dome within 90 days to coincide with the grand opening of the hotel – a task we met with time to spare. On the day of the grand opening, an octogenarian couple shuffled across the lobby floor with their extended family in tow, pointed up to the dome, and shared with the group, “50 years ago we had our wedding photos taken under this dome.” I suppose we met the hotel’s criteria of making it look like it had always been a part of the hotel.

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We believe the Driskill Hotel’s Dome and other windows are some of the most photographed of our work. We have to wonder how many wedding photos have been made with our dome and windows in them? Simply Google Driskill Hotel images to see several.

In addition to the Driskill Dome, Stanton Glass Studio, LLC has designed etched glass, stained and leaded glass windows, and doors for the hotel to include:

The 1886 Café and Bakery
Primrose Suite
Etched Glass Showers
Entrance Doors & Beveled Glass
The Victorian Room
As well several other locations throughout the hotel…

Lyndon & Lady Bird Johnson Suite
Heritage Bridal Suite
The Crystal Room
The Upper Lobby Bar
Jim Hogg Room

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