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Richmond Kelley Smoot's Home and Legacy


All Austinites: A 10:30pm Parlor Call 

All Austinites: A 10:30pm Parlor Call 

Richmond Kelley Smoot with his wife, Sallie Graham Smoot, Image Courtesy of the Flower Hill Foundation 

"All Austinites" is the newest campaign by the Flower Hill Foundation to highlight the history of the historic Flower Hill site and its connection to all Austinites.

In the spirit of gift giving and the public service legacy of the Smoots, throughout the month of December the Flower Hill Foundation will provide snapshots of the historic site and legacies of this special place. We welcome your investment in preserving one of Austin's most significant cultural sites as we continue to engage our city and its residents in local history. A donation today will ensure the long-standing legacy and community impact of Flower Hill reaches all Austinites. 

Reverend Richmond Kelley Smoot arrived in Texas in 1876. It was here in Austin that he and his wife Sallie established their home, later to be called Flower Hill, at what is now 6th and Pressler Streets in West Austin. Richmond was called to Texas to become the pastor at First Southern Presbyterian Church where he continued his ministry for nearly 30 years until his death in 1905. As Reverend, Richmond performed countless weddings as his son Lawrence Kelley Smoot recounted: 

"On many occasions the doorbell will clang out on a still night—around midnight or even later—for some young couple to get married. Papa would throw on his dressing gown, go to the door, invite the young people into the parlor, perform the ceremony, receive his fee, [...] close the door and return to his bed without even knowing who the parties were, except for the names they gave in introducing themselves and written on the marriage license."

(Left to right) Athol Estes Porter with husband, William Sidney Porter (O. Henry), and daughter Margaret in the early 1890s, Image Courtesy of Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, PICB 07185

Reverend Richmond Kelley Smoot, Image Courtesy of the Flower Hill Foundation

Among these marriages, one of the most memorable was the elopement between two choir members of Richmond's church. Late on July 1, 1887, Athol Estes and William Sydney Porter entered the parlor at 10:30 to be wed by the Reverend. Estes was an artist and musician in her own right, and Porter, later known by his pen name, O. Henry, was famous for his short stories, the most popular among them, The Gift of the Magi. 

O. Henry's classic short story highlighted the common holiday theme of gift giving, an ironic tale with a comedic twist. Much like O. Henry's Christmas parable, the Smoots, including Richmond's wife, Sallie Graham Smoot, gave generously, even when salary payments or wedding fees were left unpaid. Richmond Smoot's tenure as a minister in this small town on the Colorado River provided a needed community service for countless residents.


Daniel Ronan 

Executive Director

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