Street Address
Capitol Visitors Center
112 E. 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Mailing Address
P.O. Box 13286
Austin, TX 78711
phone: 512-305-8400
fax: 512-305-8401
e-mail: cvc.cvc@tspb.state.tx.us
web: www.texascapitolvisitorscenter.com
Admissions
Free
Museum Type(s)
Staff
Karen Elliston, Director of Visitor Services
phone: 512-305-8400
Kyle Schlafer, Program Supervisor, Texas State Preservation Board
phone: 512-305-8413
Suzy Rios, Administrative Assistant
phone: 512-305-8402
Elizabeth Garzone, Administrative Assistant
phone: 512-305-8402
Kate Nelson, Gallery Assistant
phone: 512-305-8409

Description

The Capitol Visitors Center is a restored historic structure, museum and information center. The Center is housed in the historic 1856 General Land Office Building. The Center tells the stories of the Capitol, the General Land Office and Texas. History is brought to life through interactive permanent and temporary exhibits. In addition, the Center shows two short films, "XIT: A Capitol Deal," which details the financing of the Capitol and "Beyond the Dome," which highlights secret places of the statehouse. The Texas Department of Transportation also has a travel center located at the Visitors Center where TxDot employees provide free travel information. Also the Visitors Center collaborates with Texas Parks and Wildlife which has an exhibit area where visitors can collect brochures and information on state parks.

Mission

The Capitol Visitors Center welcomes visitors and schoolchildren to the Capitol; educates them about the history of the Capitol and the old General Land Office Building; stimulates interest in the diverse heritage of Texas with exhibitions and educational programming related to the Capitol Complex.

History

The Capitol Visitors Center, a division of the State Preservation Board, opened on March 31, 1994. This unique structure has a very rich history; it originally served as the headquarters for the General Land Office. The castle-like building was designed by German architect Christoph Conrad Stremme, who had a distinguished career in Europe before immigrated to Texas. Reflecting Stremme's European background, the stately structure features gables of a medieval design and round-arched windows with a star in the transom. Construction began in 1856 and workers completed the building in 1858. The building is the oldest surviving state office building in Texas. The building served as the home of the Land Office for over sixty years. The structure saw a great deal of activity in these years as the Land Office oversaw vast amounts of public lands, drew county maps and preserved Texas land records. An array of diverse employees worked at the building including the great cartographer Charles Pressler, the Romantic landscape painter Hermann Lungkwitz and William Porter, later known to the world as the author O. Henry. In 1918, the Land Office moved to more spacious quarters, and new tenants turned this distinctive structure into a museum. For the next 70 years, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the United Daughters of the Confederacy presented their collections at the "Old General Land Office." In 1989, the State Preservation Board initiated a renovation project to restore the building. From 1990-1993 the project returned the outside to its 1880s façade and restored the two main floors to resemble their late 19th century appearance. The building reopened in 1994 as the Capitol Visitors Center with the goal of education visitors about the history of Texas, the Capitol and the General Land Office.

Artifacts Collections

The Visitors Center is a non-collecting institution. The preservation of the structure is our primary curatorial responsibility. The Visitors Center does care for some historic furnishings relevant to the structure but these items belong to the Capitol Artifact Collection of the State Preservation Board.

Educational Programs

The Visitors Center conducts regular tours for both school and adult groups. There are three different tours for students covering TEKS materials (Kindergarten-3rd grade, 4th-6th grade and Middle School). The Visitors Center publishes teacher guides and lesson plans available on our website. We also offer tours for adult groups. The Visitors Center participates in regular teacher workshops.

    Publications

    Capitol Visitors Center brochure. On-line lesson plans and teacher guides. Temporary exhibit brochures.,