In 1860, 3,494 people called Austin, Texas home, 977 of them enslaved. As educators working with one of Austin’s few resources for pre-Civil War cultural heritage, we ask and explore questions about what life was like in Austin then, what was it like twenty years later, as Texas emerged from Reconstruction, and what it was like in the early twentieth century, when, for example, students flocked to the University of Texas at Austin in ever-increasing numbers.
Life in Austin, and in Texas, from 1840 to 1930 forms the core of the educational program for children and families at the Neill-Cochran House Museum. The Neill-Cochran House witnessed the successes and failures of our community from 1855 onward. Drawing on the story of its builder, its original owner, and occupants from the State School for the Blind and the Federal War Hospital, renters, and on the Neills and Cochrans, we put the history of Austin and of Texas at young visitors’ fingertips.
Volunteers and staff call into service the objects on display and the building itself to tell the story of the individuals who have called the Neill-Cochran House home. Through those stories, children of all ages gain a deeper understanding of life at different times in our community’s past.
For educators looking for opportunities for enrichment outside of the classroom, the Neill-Cochran House Museum offers organized school group tours tailored to your curriculum with the opportunity to picnic and play on the grounds. Additionally, on the first Sunday of every month during the school year, we open our doors free to the public for Sunday-Fundays , incorporating a craft or activity connected to the house’s historical timeline up through the end of the Cochran era in the late 1950s. By combining age-appropriate interpretive guides and hands-on activities in a welcoming environment, we strive to overcome the myth that museums are places for young visitors to look-but-not-touch or that history is hard for young minds to engage with. We invite you to cultivate your potential architect, historian, or decorative arts enthusiast as you seek-and-find your way through the museum with us!