Museum the New Llano Colony



Alice "Constance" Austin

Birth: She was born around 1862 in Illinois.  

Family Information:

A. Constance Austin showing the model of her planned community in the unfinished male dormitory at Llano, California on May Day 1916.
A. Constance Austin showing the model of her planned community in the unfinished male dormitory at Llano, California on May Day 1916.

Description: Read more about the life of Alice Constance Austin on Pioneering Women.

Pre-Colony History: During the 1880's she'd built an adobe house in Santa Barbara's Mission Canyon for her parents. In 1900 she was living in California with them and working as a school teacher. In 1910 she continued to live with her parents, though at that time she was unemployed.  

Home in Colony:  

Job in Colony: Between June 1916 and June 1917 she wrote articles for the "Western Comrade".

A nationally prominent, though self-taught architect, she drew up plans and made models of a "New City" to be built at the California location. The plans included stately public buildings, extensive landscaping, and roomy multistory houses. The architectural model of her planned city was unveiled at the May Day 1916 celebration, in the partly finished men's dormitory.

Her homes were designed to eliminate much of the drudgery of housework and featured built-in furniture, such as beds, benches and chairs, which were placed in such a way that they didn't gather dust. Heated tile floors replaced dusty carpets and windows with decorated frames required no curtains. A futuristic underground conveyor system connected each home to communal kitchens and laundry.

Since the colony lacked the capital for any substantial construction, the "New City" seems to have been only a gleam in the eyes of Harriman, Austin and a few others.  

Other Info:

There is no evidence that she made the move to Louisiana with the colony.

Clipping from the Vernon Parish Democrat dated March 18, 1933.
Clipping from the "Vernon Parish Democrat" dated March 18, 1933.

Post-Colony History: In 1930 she was still living in California, at that time boarding with the Robert K. Williams family while working as a teacher in a private school.

In February 1933 she renewed her subscription to the "Llano Colonist" from California saying, "I wouldn't lose my 'Colonist' for a farm!" In March she launched the Austin Housing Project in Los Angeles, California.

In 1940, she was living alone in California and her income came from "other sources".  

Death: She died in 1955 in California.  

Sources: US Census: 1900, 1910, 1930, 1940; "New World Utopias" by Paul Kagan; "Bread and Hyacinths; The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles" by Paul Greenstein, Nigey Lennon and Lionel Rolfe; "Llano Colonist": February 11, 1933; "Vernon Parish Democrat": March 18, 1933; California Death Index  

 

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