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THF Vice President Debbie Cartwright has organized a presentation for recent grant recipients Neill-Cochran House Museum. The Museum was awarded funds to restore the former slave dwelling on Museum grounds to its original Antebellum appearance and function ahead of the forthcoming exhibit, Reckoning with the Past: The Untold Story of Race in Austin.  

The Neill-Cochran House was designed by master builder Abner Cook and commissioned by Washington Hill, relative to Texas’ prominent Lamar family. As construction progressed, it became clear that Hill might see financial ruin before the manor’s completion. By the time of its completion in 1886, the Hill’s had little choice but to let the house to the Texas State Asylum for the Blind, a newly established state-run school for the blind.

The school’s detailed recordkeeping and recent archeological analysis determined conclusively that the exterior structure served as slave quarters, establishing the Museum as home to the only intact slave dwelling in Austin. Records further detailed the names of the enslaved, their roles, the period of time spent at the school for the blind, and even the amount of monthly “rent” owners charged for their labor.

Such detail captures the day-to-day lives of the Slave Quarter’s inhabitants with a rare level of specificity that the Neill-Cochran House Museum hopes to provide visitors of Reckoning with the Past. The Fall 2023 exhibition seeks to draw a through-line from black experience in Austin through the city’s many iterations, using the House as a point of entry to explore the lives of its inhabitants from the Civil War and reconstruction to modern-day gentrification and civil rights struggles in the Texas capitol. The insights gained in the curation of Reckoning with the Past will be integrated into all areas of Museum programming, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in lesser-known aspects of Texas history and confront its present day implications.

NCHM Development Director Ann Fleming will be present, along with board members and staff from both organizations. 

Neill-Cochran House Museum Grant Presentation
Wednesday December 7, 2022 at 2 PM
2310 San Gabriel St., Austin (map)

Visit the Neill-Cochron House website for upcoming exhibits and programming. To learn more about the project or get involved, click here.