We love it when our visitors ask us questions! Some questions are easy to answer, while others require some research. Here are a few frequently asked questions, as well as some questions that have stumped us.
Do I need an appointment to visit? What does “and by appointment” mean?
We are a small museum operated by a smaller staff, but we want to show you our collection and exhibits! If you can’t come see us during our regular public hours, give us a call or send us a note and we will do our best to work you in!
Who was Neill Cochran?
We are sorry to say that we cannot introduce you to Neill Cochran. The Neill-Cochran House Museum is named after the two families who called the property home for the greatest length of time: Andrew and Jennie Neill and their children, and Thomas and Bessie Cochran and their children.
What are shutter dogs and how did they get that funny name?
Shutter dogs are metal stays that rotate around an anchor embedded in the wall of a building. The reason for the funny name is that a “dog” is a structural term for an object that either prevents movement or creates movement by presenting an obstruction or engagement of some kind. In the case of a shutter dog, the dog obstructs the movement of the blind by bracketing it back against the wall.
If the doors between the double parlors are too big to close without disrupting the furnishings of the room, why are they there?
Doors between a formal and an informal parlor are common to nineteenth-century homes. “Pocket doors” are the most common form – doors that disappear into pockets in the walls. Because the Neill-Cochran House has solid walls, there are no pockets and the house instead features large French doors. In all likelihood, those doors rarely were opened during the first few decades of the house’s occupation. The rooms only connected during large entertainment events; otherwise, the informal parlor was not on view to visitors.
How old is the pecan tree out front?
We do not know exactly how old the large Pecan tree by the front walk is, but it appears as a young tree in an 1889 photograph, so our best estimate is that it is around 150 years old. It is a native Pecan, and produces abundant but very small fruit (nuts are approximately 3/4 inches long).
Is the Neill-Cochran House haunted?
We get this question a lot. And the answer is… no… or at least a qualified no. Current staff has not experienced any paranormal activity.
Are both outbuildings original to the property?
The two-story outbuilding is original, while the one-story building is modern storage built on the site of an original garage.
The two-story building is a “Dependency,” a historical term for an outbuilding that serves the property for a larger primary building. The Dependency on the NCHM grounds consists of two rooms with an exterior staircase. Originally serving as a work building as well as living space, at a later date a chimney was cut into the building to service a laundry station on the first floor.
The one-story building has the façade of a Carriage House and is faced with stone salvaged from an 1850 commercial building on Congress Avenue between 9th and 10th streets in Austin.