The Neill-Cochran House Museum is one of Texas’ most important houses, both architecturally and historically. Originally built on 17.5 acres the outskirts of Austin, it is now only few blocks west of the University of Texas.
This 1855 Greek Revival home – featuring prominent Doric columns and “sheaf of wheat” balusters – was designed and constructed for Washington and Mary Hill by master builder Abner Cook (below), who also built the Texas Governor’s mansion. Because of financial difficulties, the Hills never occupied the house.
In 1856 the Hills leased the home to the State of Texas which used it as a temporary site for the Texas Institute for the Blind for dormitory and classroom space. The house was then occupied by Lt. Governor Fletcher Stockdale, and following the Civil War, the U.S. government leased the house to use as a Federal War hospital. Federal troops were housed and treated here for more than two years during Reconstruction. The federal government paid no monies for the use of the home or for the damages it had caused.
In 1876, the home was sold to Colonel Andrew Neill (left), a Confederate veteran. Neill and his wife Jennie Chapman Neill entertained lavishly and the house became a gathering place for Texas politicians. Jennie continued to live in the house until after Neill’s death, when in 1893, she moved “into town” and rented the home to Judge Thomas Beauford Cochran (right) and his wife Elizabeth (Bessie) Rose Cochran. Cochran purchased the home outright in 1895 for his family and expanded and modernized the home.
In 1958, the Cochran family sold the property to The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America in the State of Texas. The Neill-Cochran House Museum opened to the public in 1962, having been furnished by the NSCDA in Texas. The Centennial garden was established in 1998 to mark the 100th birthday of NSCDA in Texas. The Neill-Cochran House Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Texas Historical Commission landmark.