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A Mansion with a Past

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

It's not every day we get the opportunity to work on the remodel design for a Texas Historic Landmark. However, we have had the pleasure of designing and witnessing the renovation of the beautiful Woodbine Mansion, a charming wedding and special events venue located in downtown Round Rock, Texas.

Andrew J. and Hedwig Nelson settled in Round Rock from Sweden in 1895 and began construction on the Victorian-style mansion. The mansion was completed in 1900, and then remodeled in 1931 to reflect classical, Greek revival style, which is evident in its iconic, symmetrical front.

In March 2018, the Woodbine Mansion was purchased by the Levin family. Rob and Olga Levin are collaborating with their daughter and son-in-law, Becky and TJ Navarro, to restore the Woodbine Mansion to its 1931 state. Rob owns a remodeling company and works with TJ, while Becky has experience in event planning since 2006, which makes them the perfect team for the project.

Having designed homes for Rob and Olga Levin as well as Becky and TJ Navarro, Rodney Palmer had developed a great existing relationship and trust with them that made way for Cornerstone Architects to come on board the project.

The original request was to provide construction and permit documents for mansion renovation and a new restroom building. However, what started out as a simple project that just needed a few architecture drawings and details became more of a design build process with Cornerstone Architects as a facilitator to assist with navigating historic approvals and requirements and coordinating with consultants.

The first challenge was determining a way to increase the capacity of the property. Originally a residence, the mansion did not have parking, plumbing, lighting, or the structural integrity to host a large event such as a wedding. Once a plan was developed, it then had to get approved by the City of Round Rock as well as the Texas Historic Commission (THC) and the City of Round Rock Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). The THC and the HPC required approvals for different existing structures to be relocated, assurance that new accessible ramps and egress points were complimentary of original architecture, and new structures and details, such as the restroom building, did not attempt to match historical architecture but were sensitive and complimentary to the existing conditions.

Once the preliminary plans were set for how the building would be modified to adapt to its new use, then began the fun part of detailing out exactly how it would be done and putting a hammer and saw to the building. The first step was to give the building new skin that would match the original paint type, chemistry, and color from the 1930’s.

To make room for the new restroom building and parking lot, the existing structure in its place needed to be relocated. Rob and Olga decided to donate the building to a neighbor and the building was moved just a few blocks down from its original home.

(Photos courtesy of Hank Heyns, HHC Construction Solutions)

The next step involved the science of incorporating a modern HVAC system to heat and cool a building that was originally designed and built in the 1800’s while not disrupting the structural integrity of the existing brick or creating mold cavities. Structural engineer Larry Fisher at Kings E360 and MEP consultant Byron Hendrix at Hendrix Consulting Engineers helped to ensure converted spaces were reinforced accordingly, and new heating, cooling, and lighting systems fit the interior design of the mansion’s period as much as possible.

To better understand the existing envelope, and by the request of consultants, layers of the building had to be removed in order to help understand the composition of the building. This process exposed understandable structural failures for a century old building. The team at HHC Construction Solutions was very diligent to make sure that structural details were well thought out and executed.

Cornerstone worked closely with civil engineering firm Hagood Engineering Associates and landscape consultants Studio 16:19 to make certain the proposed accessible and guest parking plus new walks met historical requirements, Round Rock ordinances, TAS, as well as the specific PUD requirements. Finally, new finishes, lighting, and fixtures were coordinated closely between Becky Navarro and interior designer James Saavedra of Saavedra Design Studio.

The commercial team at Cornerstone Architects is thankful to have had the opportunity to work with an owner who was willing to put in the time, resources, and patience to navigate the historical commissions. Rob Levin was extremely hands on, collaborative, and one of the most responsive and accommodating owners to work with.

Woodbine Mansion is scheduled to be completed by this Summer! This Texas Historic Landmark sits on over 1.5 acres of beautiful grounds including incredible magnolia trees and one of the largest, oldest pecan trees in Round Rock! The mansion offers private gardens for outdoor entertaining, two spacious courtyards for outdoor entertaining, an elegant gazebo and garden trellis, first and second floor mansion access, five private changing rooms, vendor green rooms, wireless Internet throughout the property, onsite parking, and handicap accessibility. Contact Woodbine at 512-673-7377 for more information or to book an event!

For more information on wedding and event facilities design, please contact the commercial team at Cornerstone Architects at 512-329-0007. Here is a sneak peak of Stonehouse Villa, another up and coming event space project we have on the boards!



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