Ruggles-Smith House - 1896

Stacks Image 609
Stylistic influence(s): Queen Anne
Architect/Builder: J.J. Brydson, builder/contractor
Historic Use: Residence, office
Current Use: office
Historical designations:
City of Austin Historic Landmark
Building History
A two-story, white Victorian home with octagonal tower on the north corner of main facade. SW & SE corners have steeply pitched gables sheltering end bays. 1 story wrap around porch.

Built circa 1896 by attorney and U.S. Commissioner Gardner Ruggles, whose father was General Daniel Ruggles of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The address is first listed in the 1897-98 City Directory. Dixie L. Ruggles purchased the property in August of 1895 and Gardner took out a mechanic’s lien with J.J. Brydson in September of 1895.

Gardner’s widow Dixie sold the house in 1913. The house was owned by David C. and Malcolm Reed for the intervening years and used as an office, and it was not until Walter Raleigh Smith (1854-1942) bought the home in 1917 that it was used as a residence again.

Smith came to Texas from Alabama in 1891 and was employed by the state land office. In 1900 he opened Austin’s first rail passenger agency. He became the freight and passenger agent in 1907 before a short hiatus in Galveston from 1912-13. He purchased the home after his return to Austin and retired from the Southern Pacific Railroad Company in 1932. He and his wife Minnie raised 3 children in the home; their son Walter R. Smith Jr. lived with the couple as a student and young attorney. Minnie remarried and sold the house in 1953 to Oreta Smith, who remained there until 1974.

Significant Persons Associated with Building
1897-1913: Gardner Ruggles
1913-1917: David C. and Malcolm Reed
1917-1953: Walter Raleigh Smith