Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School

By: James W. Markham

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: July 24, 2020

The Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School, a charity-sponsored institution for black children, was located on a hundred-acre tract on Bull Creek Road between 38th and 45th streets, about four miles northwest of the Austin business district. It was established as the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute for Colored Youth in 1887 by the Eighteenth Legislature. A $50,000 appropriation was made to buy land and to construct appropriate buildings; the board of trustees included H. E. Shelley, J. T. Fulmore, and William M. Brown. Seventeen pupils and two teachers were present for the opening of the school on October 17, 1887. The initial campus consisted only of an eleven-room residence, but in 1888 a new two-story brick building was added to provide more classroom and dormitory space. In 1919 the school was placed under the jurisdiction of the newly created Board of Control. Various additions and renovations took place during the next several decades; by the 1940s the school had twelve brick buildings and one stone building, including dormitories, classrooms, hospital, superintendent's residence, and dining room. Instruction at the accredited high school emphasized training in trades and industries. Among the courses offered were manual labor, broom making, mattress making, shoemaking and repair, tailoring, cleaning and pressing, cooking, sewing, rug making, and other handicrafts. The hospital furnished surgical, medical, dental, and nursing services; specialists for eye, ear, nose, and throat ailments were employed part-time. Some poultry and farm products were raised each year for the home's own use.

When the State Colored Orphans' Home was combined with the institute in 1943, the name of the facility was changed to Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School. The school was moved to 601 Airport Boulevard, the former site of the Montopolis Drive-in Theater, in 1961, after the legislature appropriated $1.5 million for the construction of eleven buildings to accommodate the 1,208 students. The school was placed under the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency in 1965, and its name was changed to Texas Blind and Deaf School. It was combined with the Texas School for the Deaf later that year. The campus of the former Texas Blind and Deaf School served as the East Campus facility of the Texas School for the Deaf, and housed programs in early childhood and elementary education, as well as the department for multihandicapped deaf students. In 1989 the legislature appropriated money for the renovation of the School for the Deaf's South Campus, and plans were made to move all of the programs to the new facilities once the construction was completed. In the early 1990s no decision about the future use of the East Campus facility had been made.

Austin American-Statesman, September 6, 2016. Vertical Files, Austin History Center. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.


  • Education
  • State Schools and Orphanages
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Organizations

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

James W. Markham, “Texas Blind, Deaf, and Orphan School,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 02, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-blind-deaf-and-orphan-school.

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July 24, 2020

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