Tea Embassy began as the online company, Tea Treasures, or www.teatreasures.com. After steady growth, we found an old home in downtown Austin to move our company and open a store front, the birth of Tea Embassy.
The Campbell-Miller house was built in 1872, located at the corner of 9th and Rio Grande streets.
The Campbell Miller House stands on a lot within the 1839 Austin grid laid out by Edwin Waller, who became Austin's first mayor. South Carolinian Thomas Jefferson Campbell (1832-1919) returned to Austin in 1865 following his service in the Civil War as a sergeant with the Texas Infantry.
Louise Raven Campbell (1836-1910) emigrated from Germany in 1838 with her parents, Ernst (1804-1881), who had been a bookbinder at the court of the Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and Auguste Mentzel (1809-1887) Raven. After five years in Baltimore, Maryland, and four more in Texas, the Ravens settled permanently in Austin in 1848 as early colonists of the Republic of Texas. Ernst Raven established his bookbinding business, was an alderman of the city for a time, and was appointed by the Duke as Consul for the State of Texas in 1861. Sam Houston, a member of his Masonic ledge, was a frequent visitor at 'The Ravens' Nest.'
Thomas and Louise Campbell were married in 1857 and had five children by 1869: Arthur, Frank, Olivia, Jennie and Addelle. Campbell worked as a carpenter for builder and contractor Charles F. Millett, who served as Austin's first fire chief from 1866-69. Campbell was an original volunteer with the 1870 Colorado Fire Company #2 and served as its 'Recorder' from 1877-79.
The arrival of the railroad in Austin on December 26, 1871, brought economic prosperity to Austin. The population doubled to 10,000 in a few years, offering Campbell ample work. Barely a month after the first train arrived, Campbell purchased Lot 4 of Block 105 to build a home for his family.
In 1874 Campbell sold the lot west of his home to Eugene T. Deats, who became his new partner at a shop on Bois d 'Arc (7th) between Congress and Colorado, but in November of 1877, Deats, also a volunteer fireman, was injured in a fire at the blind asylum and died six months later the first in Austin to die from injuries sustained in the line of duty. Eight days after Deats' death, the Campbells' beloved 16-year-old daughter 'Ollie' died. Thomas continued his business as carpenter and builder, moving the shop to his home in 1881 (the year the Old Capitol burned down) and working with his sons Frank and Arthur. A second daughter, 'Delie' died in 1885, also at age 16. Arthur continued to work with his father until 1891, when Thomas retired from carpentry and became a night clerk at the police station.
The Campbells sold their home in January of 1898 to the widow of Dr. Robert W. Miller of LaGrange. It is likely that major changes came to home, as to the city, at the turn of the century. There had been no electricity, sewage disposal, or garbage pickup in early Austin. The streets were unpaved, houses were lit by kerosene, gas lamps or candles, and toilets were indoor containers that had to be emptied into outdoor 'privies.' The Edison Electric Light Company began providing electric service in 1887. The current State Capitol was completed in 1888. The first dam on the Colorado River was built in 1893 but collapsed in a storm in 1900, leaving 22,258 people without light once again. (The Tom Miller Dam would not be completed until 1940.) Congress Avenue was first paved with bricks in 1905.
A mechanic's lien with Brydson's Lumber Company for $1,200 indicates that Mrs. Miller remodeled the house, probably adding the two front rooms, a high-pitched shingle Mansard roof, bathroom, and front and rear porches, giving the home its popular Texas Victorian appearance with high ceilings, carpenter-gothic bead and spindle work, jigsaw ornamented brackets, turned posts and balusters. The windows sported French Louisiana Bayou-style louvered shutters, and the triangular fireplace opened to both the front salon and the master bedroom.
Fannie Moss Miller, who had relatives in Austin, is first listed in Miss Ella Rust's boarding house in 1887. She was a clerk at the Post Office in 1889 and in the state comptroller's office beginning in 1891. Her son Thomas M. Miller lived with her and was a stock clerk at John Bremond & Company wholesale grocer, where he was a salesman when his mother died in 1914. He inherited the residence and some years later married Cammie Woods before becoming manager of Bremond & Company in 1924, vice president and manager in 1932. He retired in 1935 and died two years later, leaving the property to his wife.
Cammie Woods Miller and her sister Virginia, together with Virginia's husband J. Sidney Hostetter, formed the Miller-Hostetter Company, a wholesale grocery at 605 West 4th Street. Cammie died in 1970 and left her home to Virginia, who died ten months later. Sidney Hostetter retired and sold the home in 1972 to Paul R. Hamilton, who restored the house and used it for his real estate offices and a variety of tenants. Hamilton enclosed the rear screened porch and the garage, which he joined to the house. In the summer of 2004, this lovely historic house became the new home for the Tea Embassy.