Texas Confederate Home for Men
|Texas Confederate Home for Men|
|Building Style||Cottage Plan|
The Texas Confederate Home began as a project of the John B. Hood Camp of United Confederate Veterans, which obtained a charter from the state on November 28, 1884. The camp's main purpose was to establish a home for disabled and indigent Confederate veterans. The Albert Sidney Johnston Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy cooperated in raising funds for the home. In 1886 the camp purchased sixteen acres of land at 1600 West Sixth Street in Austin from John B. and Mary Armstrong, and the home opened on November 1, 1886. In December of that year the UDC held a "Grand Gift Concert and Lottery," with prizes donated by the public, and raised over $10,800 to support the home.
Operating funds continued to come from public contributions until 1891, when the state assumed control and support, and the name officially became Texas Confederate Home. The John B. Hood Camp deeded the property to the state on March 6, 1891. Management was the responsibility of a board of managers made up of five Confederate veterans appointed by the governor and a superintendent, also a Confederate veteran, who was selected by the board. The complex on twenty-six acres of land on West Sixth Street had several buildings, including the large administration building and living quarters, a brick hospital, and private cottages. On January 1, 1920, the legislature established the Board of Control, abolished the board of managers for the Confederate Home, and transferred the responsibility of appointing a superintendent to the new agency. In 1949 the Fifty-first Legislature transferred control and management of the Confederate Home to the Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools.
However, the Board of Control continued to handle purchases for the institution. The Board for Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools administered the home until it was closed. During its first two years of operation under the Hood Camp, 113 veterans were admitted to the home, and from 1887 to 1953 more than 2,000 former Confederates were housed in the facility. In 1929 there were 312 residents, but by 1936 the number had dropped to eighty. As more of the veterans died, the number of residents continued to decrease; there were thirty-eight in 1938. By that time the average age of the men was ninety-three. In 1943 only six Confederates were still in residence. Thomas Riddle, the last veteran, died in 1954 at the age of 108.
By act of the Forty-eighth Legislature, "senile" mental patients from other state institutions were transferred to the Confederate Home. After 1939 disabled veterans of the Spanish American War and World War I, as well as their spouses, were admitted. For a number of years, the facility served the mentally ill while retaining the Texas Confederate Home for Men name. By 1947, 527 men resided at the home, almost one hundred men more than the highest number of veterans who ever inhabited the home at one time. The legislature specified that the men who were moved to the facility must be non-violent with no criminal records. Various inspections by state agencies found the hospital to be in “immaculate” condition with the residents well cared for and apparently content. Despite the facility‟s use to house senile patients, the public called for its closure in 1949 since it no longer housed any Confederate veterans. In fact, only a handful of veterans remained on the pension roll throughout the state. Legislation required that the home maintain twenty beds to house Confederate veterans, though none had been occupied since 1945. Those who sought the facility's closure argued that it had outlived its usefulness. 
In 1963 the remaining patients were sent to Kerrville State Hospital, and the Austin facility was transferred to the Austin State Hospital as an annex. In 1970 the property was purchased by the University of Texas in Austin. Construction crews razed the remaining buildings on the property that December, eliminating all physical signs that the home had ever existed. The university built housing for married students on the site at 1600 West Sixth Street. A local construction supply company obtained the bricks from the property and sold them to a number of clients.
Throughout its existence, more than 2,000 indigent or disabled veterans stayed in the home. Many of those veterans are buried here at the Texas State Cemetery. They have more than 2,200 Confederates and their spouses buried in the southeast corner of the Cemetery. Confederate Field, with its nearly uniform appearance of small rectangular headstones, is probably the most iconic image of the State Cemetery.