JavaScript must be enabled to display this page properly.

Austin Treasures: Online Exhibits from the Austin History Center Austin Treasures Home Austin History Center Home

Green Growth: historic Austin area landscaping
Individuals cont. individuals, page: 1 | 2 | 3

Clara Driscoll Sevier
Clara Driscoll Sevier--philanthropist, politician, patron-of-the-arts, businesswoman, world traveler, playwright and novelist--was born on April 2, 1881, in a small Irish community on the Texas Gulf Coast.

In 1900, upon her arrival in San Antonio from a two-year tour of Europe, the teenage millionaire heiress contributed over $70,000 of her own money to save the Alamo. Her fight for the preservation of the Alamo sparked the interest of the nation as well as a newspaperman and politician, Henry Hume Sevier, whom she married in July 1906. The couple resided in New York for several years and in 1914 returned to Austin where Hal was to found the Austin American newspaper.

They built their home, Laguna Gloria, on a site originally selected by Stephen F. Austin for his homestead. The Seviers enjoyed sharing the splendor of their Austin home with others and often entertained socialites, artists, politicians, student organizations and dignitaries.

In 1933, Sevier was appointed ambassador to Chile by President Roosevelt, and the couple, then living in Corpus Christi, packed for Chile. Following a heart attack and filing for divorce from her husband in 1937, Clara left Chile for Austin and reclaimed her maiden name. Mrs. Clara Driscoll, as she was to be known, continued her interest in financially supporting political campaigns and in 1939 gave $92,000 to the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs to allow the purchase of their Austin building at 24th and San Gabriel streets. Driscoll returned to Corpus Christi to live out her remaining days in the penthouse of the Driscoll Hotel. She died on July 17, 1945, at the age of 64.

Photograph of exterior of Laguna Gloria After the death of her husband, Hal Sevier, Clara presented her Austin home, Laguna Gloria, to the Texas Fine Arts Association in addition to $5,000 for the creation of the statewide art gallery the association had dreamed of.
[PICA 15814] enlarge image
Photograph of the grounds of Laguna Gloria The Sevier's Italian villa rested on 28-acres of beautiful hill country and housed Clara's collection of artwork brought from Europe. In a 1926 article written for Gossip, a local monthly publication, she described her tireless efforts to transform the "hillside of rock and wild growth into what I now delight to call, and to feel, is my 'Laguna Gloria'." She closes the article by noting, "if the words of a world-wide traveler mean anything, let me assure you that in the gardens of Laguna Gloria, on the banks of the Colorado, among my own people, I have made myself a retreat, to which it is always a joy to come back."
[C 01564] enlarge image
Photograph of Clara Driscoll Clara Driscoll Sevier served as president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, president of the Open Forum of Austin, president of both the Austin Garden Club and the Violet Crown Garden Club as well as Director General of the Pan American Round Table.
[PICB 08219] enlarge image
Photograph of grounds of Laguna Gloria with Lake Austin in background "Here would I be content to die." Clara Driscoll Sevier, referring to her Austin home, Laguna Gloria.
[PICA 01118] enlarge image
previous page next page

Public spaces Private homes Exhibit overview