DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE
COMMODORE PERRY ESTATE
Historic mansion in Austin, Texas transforms into a luxury destination resort and private club.
Architecture: Clayton Korte
Architecture: Moule & Polyzoides
Interior Designer: Ken Fulk
General Contractor: Rogers O’Brien
Landscape Architect: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects
Civil Engineer: Big Red Dog
MEP Engineer: Integral Group
Structural Engineer: Architectural Engineers Collaborative
Irrigation: SRI & Associates
Lighting Design: Lindsley Lighting
Kitchen Design: Melbil, Inc.
The Commodore Perry Estate, a 10-acre estate originally designed by architect Henry Bowers Thompson between 1917 and 1928 as a transportive oasis in Austin, was originally the home of Edgar and Lutie Perry. Inspired by their extensive European travels, the property enclosed by stone walls consisted of a series of formal gardens, a large 10,800-square-foot Italianate mansion, and a carriage house along Waller Creek. Perry sold the estate in 1944, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, declaring that the mansion, “A great place to throw a party, but too big to live in.”
The estate’s current owners have teamed with Auberge Resorts to transform the grand estate into a new destination resort and private club. The redesign, which involved a combination of renovation and new construction, was a collaboration between architects Clayton Korte and Moule & Polyzoides, interior designer Ken Fulk Inc., and Ten Eyck Landscape Architects. The design team returned the historical components of the property to their former glory and built a new restaurant to serve as a backdrop to the magnificent, show-stopping gardens resulting in relaxed European elegance with true gracious Texas hospitality
Working closely with the historic landmark commission, Clayton Korte led the effort to preserve the 10,542-squarefoot mansion’s historical significance with modern interventions that make it relevant and inviting for today’s guests. As the centerpiece of the property, this building instantly communicates an elevated, residential atmosphere. Upon arrival, guests and members feel as though they were arriving at the stately home of an old family friend. The welcoming entry features the estate’s original curving wrought-iron staircase, with a new hand-painted ceiling fresco overhead.
The entrance leads to the main hall with a loggia, terrace, and the gardens beyond, which serve collectively as a lobby and gathering space. Other rooms on this level of the mansion function as they historically would have: The Living Room is furnished with a new service bar and deep Chesterfield sofas for gathering fireside with a cocktail; The oval booklined Library is set up for reading or quiet conversation with overstuffed chairs and a game table; the sunny Solarium, with its original tile floors, is perfect for small bites or cocktails. The Dining Room and Breakfast Room are dedicated to informal dining experiences throughout the day. With a wide range of indoor and outdoor lounge options, including the Loggia and Terrace, Members and Resident Members can enjoy a daily menu of Estate favorites and signature cocktails with prime seating for club programming, such as intimate concerts, lectures, or tastings.
The second floor of the mansion is reserved exclusively for hotel guests, who will enjoy Resident Member status during their stay. Here, the five bedrooms from Perry’s original residence have been transformed into charmingly distinctive hotel suites as a nod to its original inhabitants. Edgar Perry’s Suite, with its safari-inspired play of patterns, reflects a love of world travel and high culture, while Lutie Perry’s Suite presents a softer side in a palette of pink velvet, faux fur, and muted leopard carpet. The redesigned en suite baths were clad in ceramic tile inspired by the residence’s existing Deco era bathrooms.
Across from the mansion, next to the original carriage house is a newly built three-story inn with guest rooms and terrace suites surrounding a central courtyard. The building, designed by Moule & Polyzoides, features an elegant colonnade perfectly suited to the history of the compound. Inside, Fulk’s design provides an elevated hotel experience. Custom millwork built-ins, rounded plaster archways, furnishings based on Italianate and Spanish Revival antiques, and bathrooms tiled in a classic star-and-cross pattern were all chosen to inspire visitors.
The lower level of the Inn, marked by a corridor clad in high-gloss curry-colored paneling, offers one room and two grand suites, all leading to a private terrace and manicured lawn. The luxurious space is designed to be interconnected, providing opulent accommodations; one suite features a dining area while the other has a fully curated library lounge. Ideal for entertaining, the entire lower level is furnished with an eclectic mix of mid-century Italian and 1920s Spanish pieces.
The historic two-story Carriage House was updated and turned into a multipurpose facility, featuring a fitness center on the main floor and Auberge offices on the second floor. The estate grounds, designed by Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, including the legacy swimming pool, were transformed and activated through the addition of agricultural gardens, complemented by a network of paths, new and renovated gardens, courtyards, outdoor dining spaces, modernized streetscapes, and the restoration of Waller Creek as it flows through the property. Balancing the historic and the modern, the pastoral and the urban, and the protection of precious open space with increased density, the landscape serves as a gracious retreat within the city
The estate’s destination restaurant, Lutie’s, announces its old-fashioned hospitality within a refined garden setting. Designed by Clayton Korte, the new structure provides guests with vistas overlooking the historic gardens. “Designed not to call attention to itself and eventually to be cloaked entirely in ivy, the restaurant is meant to be a backdrop to the garden and the events held within,” notes Paul Clayton, founding partner at Clayton Korte. Ken Fulk added a sophisticated floral pattern throughout the interior matched by a classic country club–style striped awning on the patio. The latticework ceiling is hung with plants, and on the far wall, the estate’s original stone perimeter wall peeks through above the scalloped banquette.
The careful combination of elusive elements, heritage, artisanship, and design continuity will draw guests and members to Commodore Perry Estate for years to come.