Winedale’s purpose, in support of the university’s educational mission, is to foster an understanding of Texas history and culture by preserving the collections and making them available for teaching and research. Winedale’s resources include 10 historic nineteenth-century buildings, an extensive collection of Texas furniture, decorative arts, and the Winedale Quilt Collection.
Miss Ima Hogg (1882–1975) was a devoted philanthropist, collector, and historical preservationist. Most of the structures and collections at Winedale were moved to the complex by Miss Ima in the 1960s. In 1967, she donated the Winedale campus to her alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, envisioning a “laboratory for students in college to explore many fields associated with the history and culture of ethnic groups who migrated to Texas in the early part of the nineteenth century.”
Winedale regularly hosts students from elementary and secondary schools, as well as college classes in history, anthropology, horticulture, and theater. Established in 1970, the Shakespeare at Winedale program provides students the opportunity to explore Shakespeare through performance.
Winedale supports the university’s public outreach through tours, publications, exhibitions, and programming. In 2012, the Briscoe Center published the two-volume series, Texas Furniture. In 2013, the center collaborated with the Bob Bullock Texas State History museum to present Texas Furniture From The Ima Hogg Winedale Collection. As with the book series, the exhibit opened up Winedale’s collections to new audiences. Winedale also hosts an annual quilt exhibition in February and Christmas at Winedale, a folk-life festival in December.
Winedale is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a designated State Antiquities Landmark. The Lewis-Wagner House is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Winedale’s value as a historic site and research collection includes the importance of the buildings, the collection, and its illustration of the development of the preservation profession.
The Briscoe Center is among the leading research agencies in the nation for the study of Texas history. Explore a variety of archives related to Winedale at the center’s Research and Collections Division located on the Austin campus, including Miss Ima Hogg Papers and Photographs, Wayne Bell Papers, Fordtran-McGregor Family Papers, Gideon Lincecum Papers, resources on the settlers, economy, and music and the arts of the Round Top area.
The land and early inhabitants
The area became a crossroads of trade among peoples of the Mississippi Valley, the Gulf of Mexico, and western Texas and Mexico.
Today, the land around Winedale features a combination of woods and prairies. Oaks, hickory, and juniper with an understory of yaupon characterize the woods. The prairies may be remnants of original native tall-grass prairies, imported grasses, or mixtures of the two. Wildlife abounds, including white-tailed deer, raccoon, opossum, coyote, squirrel, gray fox, bobcat, water fowl, and songbirds. Natural resources include sand, gravel, clay, lignite, and oil and gas.
Among the native plants of the region is the American Century (Sabatia angularis), which flowers at Winedale in the spring. Naturalist Gideon Lincecum brought his knowledge of Choctaw herbal healing from Mississippi to Long Point, just a few miles from Winedale, in 1848. He collected hundreds of plants in central Texas and wrote extensive commentaries on their medicinal qualities.
Archaeological investigations along nearby Cummins Creek have turned up many artifacts. Projectile points, pottery, and food and plant remains reveal significant details of early Tonkawa culture. The evidence suggests that early groups inhabiting the area were marginal to ascendant Comanche and Caddoan cultural complexes. The Tonkawas were positioned on the southern periphery of the bison range, as well as on major east-west and north-south trade routes. This population was open to many and varied cultural influences, including both nomadic hunting and sedentary agriculture. The result was a culture displaying a conglomeration of lifestyles.
The Tonkawa population of central Texas suffered a steady decline over the centuries, accelerated after European contact by disease, Comanche pressure, and environmental hardships. Following his expedition to Texas in 1828, French naturalist Jean Louis Berlandier published a book on the Indians of Texas that included watercolors based on firsthand observations.
The Tonkawas befriended the Spanish and Mexicans, and later the Anglo settlers of Texas, as allies against their common Comanche foes. Nonetheless, their days in Texas were fast drawing to a close. In the mid-1800s, the Tonkawas were removed to reservations farther north. Only from this later period of their decline do we have photographs that show the true face of the Tonkawa people who once roamed the Post Oak Savannah around Winedale.
The Spanish and Mexican eras
After their explorations in the 1500s and 1600s, the Spanish established their presence in Texas. Throughout the Spanish colonial era, the Winedale area continued as a major crossroads of exploration, travel, and trade. Spanish explorers, soldiers, missionaries, and cattle herds traversed the region from San Antonio and La Bahía to Nacogdoches and into Louisiana. Except for the dwindling Tonkawa population, the area remained sparsely settled until Mexican independence from Spain and the beginnings of Anglo colonization in the 1820s.
An adapted 1835 map of Texas was based on the surveys of empresario Stephen F. Austin and Mexican General Mier y Terán. It depicts the strategic location of the Winedale area near the major road connecting the presidio, missions, and cattle ranches of La Bahía (now Goliad) with Nacogdoches in east Texas. In the 1820s, the area lay in the northern part of Austin’s original colony. La Bahía Road, which developed from an old Indian trail and was traveled as early as 1690 by the Alonso de León expedition, crossed the Colorado River near present-day La Grange, then curved to the northeast before joining the Camino Real from San Antonio. It has left its name in Fayette County in the form of La Bahía Prairie.
The large Spanish cattle industry in south Texas exported horses and cattle up the Caminos Reales (“Royal Roads”) from San Antonio and La Bahía for sale in Louisiana. The practice of branding livestock was one of many cattle-raising traditions that the Spanish brought to the New World. Those traditions also included a comprehensive legal structure regulating cattle taxes, roundups, slaughter, and export and sale.
With independence from Spain in 1821, the new Mexican Republic was eager to settle its sparsely populated northern frontier with stable and prosperous farmers and planters. American Stephen F. Austin promised to fill that need with his first colony in 1822. Austin worked hard to promote peace and stability between the settlers and the Mexican authorities. The Austin Colony was a generous grant, extending far inland from the coast to embrace the area of present-day Winedale. The original Austin colonists, known as the “Old Three Hundred,” included the first Anglo settlers in what is now northern Fayette County.
Stephen F. Austin kept a homespun-bound ledger of land titles issued to the settlers in his colony. Among the original “Old Three Hundred” settlers was William Rabb, who received three titles north of the Colorado River in the summer of 1824. Rabb was vital to the success of Austin’s colony because he agreed to establish a mill. Rabb’s Prairie in northern Fayette County recalls his role in the history of the region.
John and Mary Rabb, William Rabb’s son and daughter-in-law, also settled in the area in the 1830s. Pioneer life in the Austin Colony demanded unceasing toil and privation to wrest a livelihood from the wilderness.
The Anglo Americans
Settlement during the first half of the 1800s placed an initial Anglo American imprint on the Winedale area. Most Austin Colony pioneers were farming families who grew corn, sugar cane, and especially cotton. The soil, climate, and market for cotton attracted southern planters, who brought slaves to the new and abundant lands between the Colorado and the Brazos rivers. Life on the Texas frontier was full of hardship and violence. Austin colonists were swept up in the Texas Revolution in 1836, and remained on constant guard against marauding bands of Comanches. During this period, William Townsend, and then Samuel K. Lewis, built the first structures on the historic Winedale property.
In 1831, the Mexican government made adjoining grants of a quarter league each to brothers John and William S. Townsend in the Austin Colony at the present site of Winedale. “Townsend” was also the original name given to the settlement now known as Round Top. Early Anglo settlers in the vicinity also included the Ledbetter, Taylor, Flack, and Hill families. Following his marriage in 1834 to the daughter of ferry owner Jesse Burnam, William S. Townsend built a large room on his property with a fireplace and a loft. This was the first, or south, section of what is now called the Lewis-Wagner House. Historic Winedale began to take shape.
Deteriorating relations between Anglo settlers and the Mexican government culminated in the Texas Revolution of 1835–36. The defeat of the Texans at the Alamo and Goliad spread panic throughout Austin’s colony. Fearing themselves at the mercy of Santa Anna’s punitive expedition, the settlers abandoned their farms and fled to the Louisiana border in the “Runaway Scrape.”
Having survived the Revolution, Winedale area settlers still faced the constant threat of raids by bands of Comanches and their Waco and Kichai allies. Comanche raiding parties regularly penetrated into the heart of the Anglo settlements near the Gulf coast. Thus, the threat of Indian attack was a fact of daily life as much as the toil of working the land.
Samuel K. Lewis came to the Republic of Texas in 1838, and soon acquired land in present-day Fayette County. A surveyor, legislator, and farmer, Lewis bought the Townsend property in 1848 from Indian fighter Captain John York and developed it into a large cotton plantation worked by his slaves. He soon expanded Townsend’s original structure, turning the loft into a full second story and adding an identical section to the north, with a breezeway between the two sections. Across the front he added a broad two-story gallery, with cedar pillars running the full height of the structure. Lewis’s house and the nearby transverse crib barn are the only buildings that today occupy their original sites on the old Lewis farmstead.
As a result of Sam Lewis’s lobbying efforts, a public road was built that passed in front of the Lewis house. By the early 1860s this road served as a stagecoach route from Brenham to Austin. The Lewis residence became known locally as “Sam Lewis’s Stopping Place,” though it seldom lodged travelers. Affleck’s Southern Rural Almanac for 1860, published in nearby Brenham, shows the road from Brenham to La Grange passing through Round Top and “Vine Grove,” a Washington County community that predated Winedale. Sam Lewis died in 1867, but his heirs retained the house until 1882. His grave is located near Winedale in the Richter Cemetery on FM 1457.
The African Americans
Most African Americans were brought as slaves to work the larger plantations of Fayette County. During the years of the Republic of Texas (1836–1845) the slave population increased by 450 percent. By the eve of the Civil War, slaves constituted a third of the population of Fayette County. Thirteen of them belonged to Samuel K. Lewis at Winedale. The plantation bell regulated the slave’s work day from “can see to can’t.”
African American slaves in Texas received official word of their emancipation on June 19, 1865, a date celebrated as “Juneteenth” ever since. Following emancipation, some former slaves left their old plantations for the cities or other regions, but most stayed on the land as tenant farmers or sharecroppers. Tenants lived on the land and paid the owner a percentage of their crops, while sharecroppers worked as wage hands paid with a portion of the crop.
Following the Civil War, African Americans in Fayette County and surrounding areas allied with German and Czech political groups to achieve a degree of political power on the local and state levels. They found particular acceptance among the German and Czech immigrants, most of whom had cared nothing for slavery, secession, or the war. Neighboring Colorado and Washington counties remained under Republican control until the 1880s, largely as a result of black-German coalitions. A white Democratic insurgence throughout the region, however, drove these alliances out of power through violence and intimidation.
Although economic and political repression of the 1800s and early 1900s conspired to hold back their progress, African American communities of Fayette County relied on the sustaining institutions of the family, fraternal societies, and the church. The roots of the Rhone Family, for example, ran deep in the Winedale area, where they farmed, did business, and taught school for several generations. Early portraits in the family papers reflect a solid middle class life. African American churches of central Texas served as moral and social centers for the community.
The family of Calvin and Lucia Rhone lived in Fayette County for almost a hundred years. The Rhones were farmers and teachers and active in the Baptist church and fraternal societies. Eight of their twelve children were born on a farm near Round Top, and six of them attended Prairie View A&M and became teachers. Daughter Urissa Rhone Brown taught for many years in the Round Top-Carmine area. The Rhones left Round Top many years ago. As with other African American families, some of the Rhone children moved to Houston. Several of their ancestors are buried in the Mt. Zion Cemetery in Plum in western Fayette County.
Interviews conducted during the 1930s by the federal government’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) gave former slaves a voice to tell their own history.
German colonization in Texas began before Texas independence, with the efforts of Friedrich Ernst in nearby Industry and the later work of the German Emigration Company based at Nassau Farm, next to present-day Winedale. After 1836, hundreds of German families bought farmland in the Fayette County area and established Lutheran churches, educational institutions, and social clubs.
Friedrich Ernst was an Austin Colony pioneer and one of the first German immigrants to Texas. He sent letters with glowing descriptions of land and opportunity in Texas back to his native Oldenburg (Lower Saxony). His writings sparked widespread interest in immigration to Texas among farmers and artisans who saw their future limited in Germany, as well as among ambitious German noblemen who sought to promote colonization projects. Reise nach Texas (“Journey to Texas”), published in Bremen in 1834, included Ernst’s commentary on the land and climate. He wrote in similar terms to a colleague in Houston in 1838.
In the 1840s, German noblemen formed the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas (Verein zum Schutz deutscher Einwanderer in Texas). Also known as the Adelsverein, the Society had both philanthropic and commercial aims. Its initial base was its showplace 4,000-acre Nassau Plantation just south of Winedale. The Society’s commissioner-general, Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels, dashed about the countryside near Round Top with his fellow nobles and hosted lavish parties and horse races. The Society eventually promoted German colonies farther to the west to avoid Anglo-American influences. By the time it went bankrupt in 1848, the Society had brought in more than 7,000 settlers and firmly established Texas as a destination for succeeding generations of German immigrants.
By 1860, German settlers in the Round Top vicinity owned 129 farms, and Round Top was becoming a largely German community. German immigrants introduced new cultural elements into the area’s predominantly Anglo and African American society. They brought their own language, food, architecture, music and art, and the Lutheran Church. The Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Round Top (f. 1866) houses a hand-carved cedar pipe organ built by Johann Traugott Wandke. The half-timbered Kneip home, now known as the Schueddemagen House, nearby typifies the Texas-German town house of the 1800s.
During the Civil War, many Germans in this region opposed slavery, secession, and Confederate military service. With the end of the war and of the slave plantations, many more immigrant farmers and artisans poured into the area. Their presence began to alter the cultural landscape.
Two key figures in the history of the Wagner farmstead at Winedale were German immigrants Rudolph Melchior and Joseph George Wagner.
Joseph George Wagner, a cobbler from Breslau (Silesia), immigrated to Fayette County in 1853 and settled in Round Top in 1854. Just before the Civil War he had saved enough money to buy land on the Nassau Farm. During the Civil War, Wagner made shoes for the Confederate army. By 1882, ready to add to his holdings, he purchased the fine old house that William Townsend had begun and Samuel Lewis had completed. Wagner’s purchase of Lewis’s house reflected a general pattern in the region after the Civil War: the transformation of large Anglo plantations into smaller, but prosperous, German farms. The elder Wagner lived in the house until his death in 1899, and his descendants lived there until the early 1960s.
Rudolph Melchior (d. 1868) was one of the many skilled craftsmen and artists who came to the Round Top-Winedale area in the 1850s. He later resided in the community of intellectuals at Latium in nearby Washington County. Melchior applied his decorative artistry to the many fine homes in the region, including the residence at Winedale now known as the Lewis-Wagner House. In the upstairs parlor of the home, Melchior’s ceiling art depicts the four seasons, with a central wreath of morning glories framing a green parrot, a favorite German motif.
In the 1840s, limited opportunities, political and cultural repression, and forced military service in the Austro-Hungarian Empire led many Czechs to seek a better life in America. Most of the immigrants came to Texas from northeast Moravia and southeast Bohemia directly by sea to Galveston. From there they founded Czech colonies in Austin, Fayette, Washington, and Lavaca counties in the 1850s. Settlement spread from these “seed” colonies in a process called chain migration, whereby Czech communities maintained their cultural contacts while expanding into new territory. The Czechs’ arrival once again altered the cultural landscape of Fayette County, transforming the German town of Fayetteville, for instance, into a mostly Czech community.
Josef L. Lesikar, a Czech tailor, farmer, and political leader, organized the first groups of immigrants to Texas in the early 1850s. Though their passage was arduous, and many of the immigrants died, the settlements eventually prospered. Lesikar built a log home in New Bremen in neighboring Austin County and continued to promote Czech immigration in Texas until his death in 1887. His descendants hold yearly gatherings where they display a prized family heirloom: a Czech prayer book of 1615 carried by Josef Lesikar on the perilous journey of immigration.
Joseph Peter and his family were among the early Czech immigrants to Texas. The family came from Moravia in 1856 and established the Fayette County community of Dubina (“Land of Oaks”). Peter’s son Joseph, Jr., personified many Texas Czech immigrant stories. He began as a blacksmith, and during the Civil War the young Peter hauled Confederate cotton to sell in Mexico. After the war, Peter became a successful merchant and cotton gin owner. In the 1890s, he represented Fayette County in the state legislature. Among those who worked the lands of Joseph Peter, Jr. were Fred Svecina and former slave Tom Lee.
Czech immigration reintroduced Roman Catholicism into the Fayette County region, where the Catholic religion had largely given way to Methodist, Baptist, and Lutheran worship. Religious fraternal and benevolent organizations such as the Czech Catholic Union of Texas (Katolicka Jednota Texaska, or KJT), formed in Fayette County in 1889, helped nurture Czech community identity and cultural cohesion. Czech craftsmen in Fayette County, like their German counterparts, used Biblical stories as vehicles for artistic expression.
At the same time that Czechs were embracing the Texas way of life, they developed powerful institutions to preserve their language and cultural identity. One of these was a Czech-language press, represented by this 1892 election issue of the La Grange Svoboda (“Freedom”), whose front page lists all the candidates for local offices. In 1896, the Slavonic Benevolent Order of the State of Texas (Slovanska Podporujici Jednota Statu Texas, or SPJST), was created in Fayette County as a regional fraternal insurance organization. SPJST lodges have since provided places for music and dances and have promoted Czech language and culture, including the study of Czech at both The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M University.
The Civil War was a pivotal experience in Fayette County. It drained men and resources, ravaged the economy, freed the slaves, and ended the large plantations. Most of all, the war uprooted people’s lives and often set neighbors and even families against one another. Active military companies in Fayette County included the Round Top Guerrillas (cavalry), Round Top Veteran Infantry, and Round Top Mounted Infantry. The latter, an all-German unit commanded by the son of pioneer Friedrich Ernst, was a notable exception to the general antipathy of local Germans to the war. Ernst died in the war in 1863.
The family of Lena Dancy ran a Fayette County plantation. Her papers provide significant details of Civil War life on the home front. She recalled that they could not buy thread, flour, or coffee in La Grange, and that meals consisted of “corn bread 3 times a day.” Her papers also include a book of patterns for weaving counterpanes (bed coverings) on the loom.
Following the Civil War, the economy rebounded quickly and enjoyed a sustained growth from 1870 to 1900, fueled by the influx of German and Czech immigrants and the arrival of the railroad in 1872. The immigrants bought land from the old plantations and created smaller productive farms, whose leading cash crops were still cotton and corn. The immigrants altered the cultural face of the area, as well. By 1890, 25 percent of Fayette County’s population was foreign born, and the immigrants tended to dominate local business and civic organizations, including the Round Top Schützen-Verein (“Rifle Association”), founded in 1888.
The Winedale community began around 1870 as a tiny German settlement called Trübsal (“Affliction”), located just across the Washington County line about two miles from the Wagner farmstead. So fond were the local farmers of making good wines from mustang grapes, dewberries, peaches, mulberries, and raisins, that the name soon changed to “Winedale.” Around the time that the Joseph Wagner family purchased the Lewis farmstead in 1882, the Winedale community relocated to Fayette County to cluster around the Wagner property. What had been merely farmland now became a community, and Winedale thrived there until the end of World War II. Joseph Wagner, Jr. became a key figure in Fayette County politics.
By the 1890s, the Fayette County population was a rich mixture of ethnicities and social classes. Despite the increasing number of Anglos, Germans, and Czechs, African Americans still constituted a full third of the population, though they had little political power. Each group developed its own organizations and social activities: shooting clubs, literary and musical groups, fraternal and religious organizations, and sports teams. Bands and orchestras played concerts and dances throughout the area. Social occasions such as community picnics frequently tapped the resources of the local brewing industry established by German and Czech immigrants. And baseball was truly the American pastime of Round Top and Winedale, with their rival all-German teams.
Twentieth-century Round Top and Winedale continued to flourish economically until the Depression and World War II. The decline of the region’s economy affected the makeup of the area’s labor force and again altered the social landscape of the region. At Winedale, many of these forces were reflected in the activities of the Wagner family, who resided in the old Wagner House until the death of Joseph Wagner, Jr., in 1961. By that time, the community known historically as Winedale had declined, and the site was about to assume a new role in the cultural history of Texas.
Cotton was the predominant cash crop for Fayette County farmers since the days of the Austin Colony. The Depression of the 1930s, however, knocked the bottom out of the cotton market. Small family farmers turned to subsistence growing and tightened their belts to ride out the hard times. Joseph Wagner, Jr.’s, advice to local farmers to sell mineral rights to their land at $1.00 an acre helped some of them to save their farms. Hardest hit were the tenant farmers and sharecroppers attached to larger lands, whose owners took federal subsidies, evicted their renters, and replaced them with machinery. Though World War II helped to end the Depression, large-scale, mechanized agriculture began to replace the smaller traditional farms. For many Fayette County Germans, Czechs, Anglos, and African Americans, however, family land was an extension of the family itself, and traditional small-scale farming continued with stubborn persistence.
Through the first half of the twentieth century, the Wagners farmed their land and ran several local businesses, including a cotton gin, feed and grist mills, garage and gas station, blacksmith shop, and a general store and saloon that became a favorite Winedale gathering place. The property around the Wagner house was studded with outbuildings (now removed) that reflected the farmstead’s many activities: the cultivation of cotton, corn, sorghum, and peach and pecan orchards; cattle, chicken, and hog raising; and gardening and bee-keeping. Daily life on the farmstead was labor intensive. The Wagner family toiled in the fields alongside several black tenant families who worked for modest wages, food, housing, clothing, and medical care. By the late 1950s, local agriculture and the businesses that served it had waned. The workers moved on, the cotton gin was dismantled and sold, and the Wagner Family sold the house and farmstead in 1961.
Miss Ima and the gift
The Wagner House was showing much wear and damage from Hurricane Carla when Hazel Ledbetter purchased it from the Wagner family in 1961. Mrs. Ledbetter removed some outbuildings but left the house largely untouched until she showed it to her friend Ima Hogg in 1963. Captivated by the decorative paintings of Rudolph Melchior on the walls and ceiling of the upper room of the house, Miss Hogg decided to buy and restore the building with the initial thought of relocating the house to Bayou Bend. When that proved impossible, she set out to restore the old house on the site as a showplace for the nineteenth-century Texas and Pennsylvania German crafts she had been collecting. The restoration project was directed first by Houston architect John Young, then by University of Texas restoration architect Wayne Bell, who served as Winedale’s director for thirty years.
Miss Ima offered the Winedale property, and an endowment for its support, to the University of Texas, Miss Ima’s alma mater. Formal donation ceremonies were held at Winedale in April 1967.
The development of Winedale
As the Wagner House was being restored, the complex of historical buildings at Winedale began to take shape. The farmstead’s original transverse crib barn was restored, and an old hay barn nearby was converted for use as a theater. Between 1965 and 1969, additional historic buildings were moved onto the property and restored at their new sites. These included the log smokehouse and kitchen, Hazel’s Lone Oak Cottage, and the Lauderdale House.
From the mid 1960s to the early 1990s, several other historic structures were relocated to the Winedale property and restored. These include the McGregor-Grimm House, the Winedale School, the Spies House, and the Biegel House. Together, they completed the transformation of Winedale from an old farmstead to a new outdoor museum. Learn more about the historic buildings of Winedale here.
Since its founding in 1967, Winedale has developed several facilities that serve as venues for its workshops, conferences, and public programs. These facilities near Lake Winedale include the Wagner Dining Hall and Dormitory, the Meadows Foundation Conference Center, and the pavilion.
In 1995, Winedale became a division of the Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin. The Briscoe Center has strengthened Winedale’s ties with the scholarly community and the general public.
Adapted from The Winedale Story, an exhibition curated in 1998 to 2000 by Lynn Bell and John Wheat of the Briscoe Center. Updated 2021.
About Miss Ima Hogg
Miss Ima Hogg (1882–1975) was a devoted philanthropist, collector, and historical preservationist and affectionately called “Miss Ima.”
She was born to Texas Governor James Stephen Hogg and Sarah Ann “Sallie” Stinson Hogg on July 10, 1882, in Mineola, Texas. She was the sister of Will C. Hogg, a University of Texas Law School graduate and Regent of The University of Texas, Michael Hogg, and Thomas E. Hogg. Miss Ima began attending The University of Texas in 1899, where she developed lifelong interests in education, psychology, politics, music, and art. She later went to New York City to study music but returned to Texas in 1905 due to her father’s illness. The Hogg family cultivated public service, and when oil discoveries made them rich, they devoted their newfound wealth to philanthropic endeavors, including collecting and historic preservation.
An astute and discerning collector of the finest examples of American material culture from the Colonial period through the Victorian era, Miss Ima’s collecting efforts began in the 1920s. She had a special interest in the German and Czechs who settled in Texas in the nineteenth century, and her collection included finely-wrought examples of hand-crafted furniture made on the Texas frontier before factory-produced furniture was available. Seeking a suitable home in which to display this collection for her fellow citizens to enjoy, Miss Ima acquired the Lewis-Wagner House, also known as the Stagecoach Inn, in Winedale, Texas in 1963 with the idea of relocating it to Bayou Bend, her home in Houston, which housed the bulk of her collections. When relocating the building to Houston proved impractical, she began to plan for its eventual donation to UT, her alma mater.
“I thought the houses [at Winedale] should be utilized as a sort of laboratory for students in college to explore many fields associated with the history and culture of ethnic groups who migrated to Texas in the early part of the nineteenth century,” Miss Ima said.
As she worked with university architecture professors and students to restore the house and outbuildings, Miss Ima’s vision for Winedale evolved from it being simply a place to showcase her collections to Winedale serving as a laboratory for students studying a variety of disciplines. The university received Miss Ima’s gift of the Winedale property consisting at that time of the Lewis-Wagner House, Hazel’s Lone Oak Cottage (a gift to Miss Ima for her “Winedale project” from her friend and fellow preservationist, Hazel Ledbetter), Transverse Crib Barn, and Theater Barn along with a gift to establish the Winedale Stagecoach Inn Endowment to help the university with preservation and operations of the property, in formal ceremonies in 1967. Over time, Miss Ima and other Winedale friends added additional land, educational buildings, and collections to the campus until it became the Winedale we know today.
Miss Ima founded the Houston Child Guidance Center in 1929, established UT’s Hogg Foundation for Mental Health following the death of her brother Will, and was a long-time supporter of the Houston Symphony. In addition to gifting Winedale to The University of Texas at Austin, Miss Ima she restored and gifted the Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historical Site to the state of Texas; restored and gifted her parents’ home to the town of Quitman, Texas, which later became the Ima Hogg Museum; and in 1966, donated her house and its furnishings and contents to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which is now known as the Bayou Bend Collection. Her influence as a historical preservationist and collector led her to opportunities with an appointment by Governor Allan Shivers to the Texas State Historical Survey Committee (now the Texas Historical Commission) in 1953; an appointment by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the committee tasked with planning the National Cultural Center (now the Kennedy Center) in Washington, D.C. in 1960; and her service on an advisory panel to find historic furniture for the White House at the request of Jacqueline Kennedy in 1962.
Miss Ima died on August 19, 1975, at the age of 93. She was buried in the Hogg family plot in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas.
Winedale historic buildings and exhibitions
Visit Winedale and see the historic buildings and current exhibitions.
The Briscoe Center is among the leading research agencies in the nation for the study of Texas history. Explore a variety of archives related to Winedale at the center’s Research and Collections Division located on The University of Texas at Austin campus, including:
Winedale and Round Top related archives and manuscript collections, consisting of resources on settlers, economy, and music and the arts
Winedale Quilt Collection
The Winedale Quilt Collection originates from several dozen quilts and coverlets Miss Ima donated that has grown to include over 600 quilts spanning over 200 years. The collection includes supporting documentary evidence on quilts, techniques, materials, and quilt makers. Learn more about the quilts here.