The Ghosts of Austin’s Confederate Woman’s Home

If you live in Central Austin, you’ve probably unknowingly driven past one of the most haunted buildings in town.

On the corner of Cedar Street and 38th sits AGE of Central Texas, an organization whose mission is to “help older adults and their caregivers thrive as they navigate the realities and opportunities of aging and caregiving.”

The building has a history of altruism. And a few ghosts. 

Daughters of Confederacy

Confederate Widows

In 1908, the Confederate Woman’s Home was built by the Daughters of the Confederacy to house the widows, wives, and orphans of Confederate soldiers. Some of the residents were women who had helped the Confederacy during the Civil War. 

As the decades passed, so did most of the residents, many of whom decided to remain. 

When the home opened, they had very specific requirements to be accepted as a resident of the Confederate Woman’s Home: 

  1. Must be a woman
  2. Must be over 60 years old
  3. Must have limited financial resources
  4. Must be related to a man who fought during the Civil War (husband, father, son…)

The United Daughters of the Confederacy saw firsthand the need for a place where the aging population of women directly affected by the Civil War was needed. 

Many of the women entering the Confederate Woman’s Home were suffering from mental and physical illnesses. Therefore, a hospital and a morgue were built on-site. Efficiency. 

Texas Takes Over

Confederate Woman's HomeThe home was constructed in 1906-1907 with raised funds. It was a two-story structure with fifteen bedrooms. The doors opened on June 3, 1908, with three women admitted, and by 1909 there were sixteen residents. 

The United Daughters of the Confederacy used donations to operate the home until 1911. That’s when an amendment was resubmitted to voters to confer the home to the state and was finally passed after a few tries. The state of Texas took the Confederate Woman’s Home over, and from 1911 to 1963, the home continued to care for war widows. 

In 1913, they realized they needed more rooms and began construction on an addition that gave them twenty-four more bedrooms. In 1916, the adjoining hospital was built. From 1920-1935, the Confederate Woman’s Home housed up to 110 residents at one time.

By the 1940s, most of the Confederate widows had passed, and the residents were now widows who had lost their loved ones in World War II. However, in 1963, the last three women living inside the home were sent to private nursing homes, and Texas shuttered the Confederate Woman’s Home. 

The historical marker outside of the building reads, “over 3,000 wives and widows” found their home on Cedar Street behind the doors of the Confederate Woman’s Home. However, the historical marker has been replaced with one that aligns more with the values and mission of AGE of Central Texas. 

For the Children 

The Confederate Woman’s Home sat abandoned for almost ten years. But in 1972, the state remodeled the inside to create a safe home for children with special needs. The School for the Deaf, Blind, and Orphans needed more space for residents, and this was an easy building to convert. 

The infirmary, morgue, and rooms for convalescents and the dying were converted into classrooms, a gymnasium, and playrooms. What was once a place for the elderly who had lost their loved ones and, at the end of their lives, was transformed into a home for children who also needed attention, compassion, and help. 

In the ten years that it operated as the Children’s Home, not all days were filled with innocence and laughter. Unfortunately, there were some children who, like the widows before them, perished in the home. 

By the 1980s, the children were moved back to the campus on 45th Street, now called the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. And eventually, the Confederate Woman’s Home became what it is today, AGE of Central Texas. 

The Hauntings

The reports of paranormal activity throughout the years baited ghost hunters to the property. Paranormal investigators have identified a few different ghosts that are said to roam the grounds. 

There are two full-body apparitions of women (no surprise there) that have been seen sitting upstairs in what used to be the parlor. Folks report seeing them engaged in a chat as if they are still there, passing the time with visits and small talk. 

But what about the kids? Child ghosts really are the most unsettling. The tales of hearing children laughing and screaming have been told for decades. Folks have said to find toys that weren’t there before and have heard the pitter-patter of little feet when there are no little feet to pitter or patter. 

The investigators found evidence of a little boy who plays downstairs, as well as a little girl who can be seen and heard running through the upstairs parlor. 

Hopefully, the current people in the building (the living) make them feel well welcomed. All of them, Confederate widows and children alike.