Texas Capitol Visitors Center
The castle-like Texas Capitol Visitors Center is inside the oldest state office building in Texas. It’s even older than the capitol. The center building was designed by German-born Christoph Conrad Stremme, thus its medieval and classical elements such as parapets, arches and drip molds. After extensive remodeling to preserve the historic building, it reopened in 1994 as the Texas Capitol Visitors Center and hosts more than two million visitors a year.
Serving a Critical Purpose
For centuries, the building was home to the Central Land Office. Inside a second-floor room, draftsmen drew the boundary lines that made Texas what it is today, a critical job since Texas’ number one asset was its land. Here, you can view some of the tools draftsmen once used, many of them from the time the center was built during the mid-19th century. The same safes once used to protect 19th century land documents remain.
A Famous Employee
One of the draftsmen, William Sydney Porter, wrote some of America’s most famous short stories under the nom de plume O. Henry. Two of the stories take place at the Central Land Office. Inside the Texas Capitol Visitors Center, you can hear audio clips of those stories being read.
A small exhibit is dedicating to teaching visitors about Porter, his life and his inspirations, one of which was the building itself. On view is a photo of Porter with the rest of the draftsmen inside their second-floor workroom.
As you walk through the Texas Capitol Visitors Center, you’ll learn about Texas life and history through permanent and rotating exhibits. One exhibit portrays life as a Texas soldier who gets paid in land for his service. Another digital exhibit tells Texas history in a long chronology at different stations.
On show is an award-winning documentary about the Texas capitol. Additionally, there is an exhibit dedicated to teaching visitors about the design and construction of the capitol building.
There is a gift shop plus tons of brochures, pamphlets and maps that offer recommendations on how to have the best Austin experience.
Don’t just visit Austin, learn about Austin. The more you know, the more you’ll appreciate this beautiful city the way we do. The Texas Capitol Visitors Center is a short drive from your rental, and it’s well worth spending a big portion of the day at. Call or browse our website to stake your claim on a piece of Austin history!