Museum the New Llano Colony

Alice "Constance" Austin

Birth: She was born around 1862 in Illinois.  

Family Information:  

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.

Post-Colony History: In 1920 she was a housekeeper at St. Mary's Hospital for children with hours from 4:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. and two hours off in the afternoon. She was drawing $65.00 per month and expenses. She had "had interviews with Clarence T. Miller of the United States investigating committee, Senator Runyon of New Jersey, Hon. Jas. Couzens, Mayor of Detroit, Dr. Katherine Davis, General Secretary of the Bureau of Social Hygiene, who [wa]s also an intimate friend of Mrs. Rockefeller, also Ida Clarke of Pictorial Review, who [wa]s representing the United States at Stockholm, and for whom Miss Austin [wa]s to build an Adobe house. I guess it pa[id] to be constant!"

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 May 1930 she attended a picnic of ex-colonists at Fullerton, California. Each brought a lunch, sufficient for his needs and the needs of several others. Long tables were arranged under the shade of the park trees. The coffee was furnished by Minnie Pickett and John Will saw to it that everyone was generously served. It was unanimously agreed to form an organization that would organize future semi-annual social gatherings for the group. Minnie Pickett was chosen secretary-treasurer and Dr. Robert K. Williams was appointed assistant secretary.

The picnic was attended by more than 65 ex-colonists including: Minnie Pickett, John and Frances Will and Dorothy, Lottie Brown, Professor Lowell H. Coates, Bert Engle, Victor and Alma Swanson and Elwin, Jess and Mildred Morris, Louis and Grace Petty, Louis and Jennie Conlin, Mrs. M.E. Babb, Norman and Ethel Johnson, Ernest and Pearl Wooster, H.L. and Guy Ward, Mrs. Clara Powers and son, George, Mrs. Ada Harper, Ethel Wright, E.E. Vaughn, J.H. Ryan, Val Brown and wife, Miss A.C. Austin, Walter Millsap, Jr. and his mother, Cara Millsap, Dr. Robert K. and Dr. Cecil C. Williams, E. Krause and family, John Van Nuland (who passed around a tub of Llano candy sent by Anton, and it was "great stuff" by all those who tasted it) Mr. and Mrs. W.L. Kilmer, Professor Lowell B. Coate [sic], Mr. and Mrs. Jack Wallace, Mr. and Mrs. Charley Earl, Mr. and Mrs. Suhre, A.L Spann, Frederick R. Johnson, A. Hansig.

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": May 10, 1930, February 11, 1933; "Vernon Parish Democrat": November 18, 1920, March 18, 1933; California Death Index  


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.

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

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