The AGE Building
“Our aging community in Central Texas, and those caring for older adults, span every socioeconomic background, race, ethnic group, age, and gender. Older adults represent the most diverse cohort in our country, and should have the right to age with the grace and dignity that every human life deserves, no matter the color of their skin.”
The Past: The Confederate Woman's Home
The Confederate Woman’s Home was opened in 1907 to care for widows and wives of honorably discharged Confederate soldiers and other women who aided the Confederacy. Many of these women were related to men at the Texas Confederate Home in Austin. Residents were required to be at least sixty years of age and without means of financial support.
In 1903, the Wives and Widows Home Committee organization was established, which raised funds for the home and oversaw its construction. In 1905, the organization purchased property north of Austin, and in 1906, A. O. Watson was hired to design a building on the site. The two-story facility, constructed in 1906-1907, had fifteen bedrooms.
At its opening on June 3, 1907, three women were admitted to the home; by 1909, it housed sixteen. The United Daughters of the Confederacy operated the home until 1911, relying solely on donations to cover expenses. A bill to confer the home to the state was vetoed by Governor Samuel Willis Tucker Lanham in 1905. In 1907, a constitutional amendment providing for state ownership of the home was rejected by Texas voters. The amendment was resubmitted to the voters in 1911 and passed by a wide margin. The property was deeded to the state. At the time of the transfer, the institution had eighteen residents.
The state placed the eleemosynary institution under a six-member board of managers. In 1913, the state constructed a large two-story brick addition, designed by Page Brothers, Architects, which included twenty-four new bedrooms. To accommodate the growing number of ailing patients, a brick hospital building was built in 1916, with a hospital annex added eight years later.
The institution was placed under the Board of Control in 1920, and housed between eighty and 110 residents from 1920 through 1935. By the late 1930s, new admissions to the home were decreasing and most of the surviving women were in poor health. From 1938 to 1945, the population of the home fell from eighty-seven to fifty-five.
In 1949, the home fell under the jurisdiction of the Board of Texas State Hospitals and Special Schools. During the late 1950s, the nine remaining residents were consolidated into one hospital wing. In 1963, the last three residents were moved to private nursing homes at state expense, and the facility was closed.
The state sold the property in 1986. The home cared for more than 340 indigent women over a period of fifty-five years. It was popular with the Austin community, and was the site of many community events over the years.
(Text from the Texas State Historical Association http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ync06)
The Present: The AGE Building
The building was purchased in 1986 by Austin Groups for the Elderly (AGE) and was renovated into office spaces. At the time, Austin Groups for the Elderly’s purpose was to host agencies that dealt with aging and disability issues. Meals on Wheels and More, Lutheran Social Services, and Hospice Austin were a few that came together to work on Austin’s aging issues.
As these organizations grew larger, they struck out on their own. AGE reorganized to create a building that would allow a more diverse group of non-profits to house within it. At the same time, AGE took ownership of existing programs in the community and create new ones to fill voids in service to older adults and family caregivers. AGE rebranded as “AGE of Central Texas” to better identify the organization’s mission, vision, and expansion from the simple landlords of a historic building to the larger regional non-profit organization that it had become.
At any given time, 20 to 25 emerging non-profit organizations are in residence at The AGE Building. Tenants pay below-market rental rates and share facilities and equipment, to allow them to concentrate more dollars into their programs rather than overhead costs.
The AGE Building has become a place of collaboration between the various non-profits and a haven during difficult economic times. On-site management and a caring staff dedicated to helping non-profits reach their potential make the building an ideal office space. The AGE Building believes in diversity within its non-profit population.