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Historic Judge’s Hill landmark seeks $2.7M

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Gorgeously restored Downtown Victorian

Large, late 1800s entry and living area with restored wood staircase and floors and hammered metal ceilings
1600 Rio Grande Street
Via Moreland Properties

It must be said: At this point, many of the large, single-family homes in the historic Judge’s Hill neighborhood would be wild and possibly challenging to live in. Often restored in grand style, they can evokes fantasies of a genteel and convivial enclave that probably never was, at least for large segments of the local population—and certainly isn’t now. Situated as it is on the northwest edge of Downtown, the area and its multiple, impressive landmarks are largely given over to commercial, mostly office use.

Nevertheless, listings of the historic buildings for sale in the area tend to represent their use as single-family homes as a practical option—though, in fairness, the office or live-work space uses they’ll likely have are offered as possibilities as well.

That’s certainly the case with the Ruggles-Smith House at 1600 Rio Grande. Built in 1896, the city of Austin historic landmark has Downtown views and leans in to its well-restored Gilded Age grandeur in most parts of the house.

If there are some uninspiring updates in bathrooms or the spaces that were clearly set up for office use seem a bit airless, a house-hunter’s faith can be restored by revisiting the grand front rooms, sitting a spell on the big, covered porch, or wandering through its inventively landscaped yards and pretending they’re special, secret gardens instead of the once and future grounds of law offices. And wouldn’t that be pretty?

The two-story, 3,195-square-foot house is on a quarter-acre lot and has four bedrooms and four bathrooms. It’s listed by Moreland Properties and is asking $2.699 million.