Austin State School

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Austin State School
Construction Began 1904
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Peak Patient Population 2,500 in 1964
Alternate Names
  • State Colony for the Feeble-minded
  • Austin State Supported Living Center


Austin State School has a long and rich history of service to the citizens of the great state of Texas. In 1915, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 73 to create Austin State School, the first facility specifically for citizens with mental retardation. Two years later, Texas opened the State Colony for the Feeble-minded, which was renamed the Austin State School in 1925. The initial capacity of the school was 65 residents, primarily female, but over the years it became home to more than 2,000 residents with everything from a working dairy to a hospital on its 95 acres.

In 1965, the passage of the Texas Mental Health and Mental Retardation Act authorized the creation of at least one community-based mental retardation center per county. These centers allowed persons with more moderate retardation, especially children, to live with their families. Increasingly, the state schools housed people with severe retardation and people with multiple disabilities, most of whom were adults. The 1970s saw improvements in the staff ratios and the development of community living options and life skills training.

By 1974, the Austin State School reduced its population to 1,400 residents. Today, the Austin State School serves 436 residents who live on campus. Staff provides expanded training, educational, medical, recreational, psychological and social services. The campus now includes a theater and recreational facility, a native path for walking, a large indoor pool and Jacuzzi, and an athletic field. Beautiful stained glass windows enrich the lives of the clients during weekly worship services at the chapel.