Chateau Bellevue, 708 San Antonio Street, has been the headquarters of the Austin Woman’s Club since 1929.
The mansion was built by Harvey and Catherine North in 1874. The Norths were newcomers to Austin when construction began. It didn’t take long for Austin society to realize that the Norths were rich and cosmopolitan.
Before coming to Austin, Harvey North was a merchant in New Orleans. He took his family on long visits to Europe, giving credence to the idea that Bellevue’s castle imagery evoked European castles.
By 1876, the North’s fortunes in Austin real estate began to falter. Just two years after building “Bellevue Place”, it was up for sale. Catherine North finally sold the mansion to Augusta Gaines and William Pendleton Gaines (II) in 1881. And for only half the amount it cost the Norths to build.
In 1892, Major Ira Evans bought Bellevue Place and turned the home into a castle, with the help of noted Texas architect, Alfred Giles. Starting with North’s wooden porch (replaced with limestone in the 1920s) Giles extended the home toward the west with a series of graceful rusticated limestone arches. He fortified the rooftops with crenelations and added a side entrance of exquisitely-carved limestone.