The historic legation building was constructed in 1841 to represent the French government in new Republic of Texas. Never heard of a legation? It is typically a diplomatic office a level beneath an official embassy. After WWII, the term was eventually dropped.
This site was the private home of Alphonse Dubois, the French chargé d’affaires, who was sent to the Republic of Texas by then monarch King Louis Philippe. Dubois recommended that the Republic of Texas be recognized as a sovereign nation and was charged with establishing an official Legation. The site was eventually sold a few times before ending up with Dr. Joseph W. Robertson, who turned it into his own family home.
Robertson and his wife had 11 children and brought in nine enslaved workers, and the property became known as Robertson Hill. One of his daughters lived in the home for nearly 84 years and opened it to public, offering tours of what she termed the “Old French Embassy.” Upon her death, the home was sold to the state and it’s now the French Legation Museum, having opened with offices, a gift shop and a meeting room in 1956.
Guided tours of the French Legation Museum last approximately 40 minutes. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1 pm to 5pm. Guided docent tours are done at 1:15, 2, 3, and 4pm. The Alliance Française d’Austin hosts pétanque on the second and fourth Sunday of each month (equipment provided).