Woodlawn is the largest of the four remaining two-story Greek Revival mansions built in the 1850s by Austin's master builder Abner H. Cook. Designed for James B. Shaw, Texas state comptroller, the house was finished in 1853, one year before Cook built the Governor's Mansion. The house is made of local brick, probably from Cook's own kilns, and is distinguished by a fine east-facing front portico with two-story Ionic columns and a small balcony at the second story center hall. The floor plan of the main block, like the Governor's Mansion, has two large rooms facing each side of a wide center hall. The north side of Woodlawn, however, has an additional small ell-shaped porch with three two-story Doric columns. In the twentieth century the considerable acreage surrounding the house was developed into a neighborhood of elegant homes, and the mansion is now on a large, beautifully landscaped lot at 6 Niles Road. Almost as soon as the building was completed Shaw abandoned the idea of living there because of family tragedies. On June 13, 1859, Governor Elisha Marshall Pease bought Woodlawn, and it remained in his family for many years. In 1957 Governor Allan Shivers and his wife refurbished Woodlawn as their home and had the brick painted pale pink. In 1961 the Texas Historical Commission erected a historical marker on the house. In 1994 the Shivers family still owned the house.
Is history important to you?
We need your support because we are a non-profit organization that relies upon contributions from our community in order to record and preserve the history of our state. Every penny helps.
Dorothy Kendall Bracken and Maurine Whorton Redway, Early Texas Homes (Dallas: Southern Methodist University, 1956). Kenneth Hafertepe, Abner Cook: Master Builder on the Texas Frontier (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1992). Andree Abell Petticrew, Abner Cook, Master Builder (Waco: Texian Press, 1985). David Elmore Wark, Abner Hugh Cook: Master Builder and Citizen of Austin (M.A. thesis, University of Texas at Austin, 1981). Roxanne Williamson, Austin, Texas: An American Architectural History (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1973).
Houses, Mansions, and Plantations
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 21, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.