Georgetown, Texas was founded in 1848 and was named for George Washington Glasscock. Glasscock had donated the land of which the new town was built. Interestingly enough, the site had much earlier been a village for the Tonkawa Indians.
The people who originally settled Georgetown were immigrants comprised mostly of Swedish, German, Austrian, Swiss, Moravian and Czech. Other early settlers were Americans from the southern states.
The growth of Georgetown, Texas was spurred by the founding of Southwestern University in 1873 and with a railroad line coming through in 1878. By 1904 a railroad connected down to Austin, the state capital.
In addition to these, cotton was a huge economic driver and brought jobs and money to Georgetown.
When you visit Georgetown, Texas, the structures on all four sides of the courthouse square are a part of the Town Square Historic District. Below are stories about two of these major historic structures…
Williamson County Courthouse
The Williamson County Courthouse is one of the many beautiful old county courthouses you’ll see throughout the state. The town became the county seat in the year of it’s founding. This was some twelve years after the Texas Revolution which freed the land from Mexican rule. The first of what would be five courthouses was built in 1849. Court was first held under a live oak tree one block south of the courthouse square until the county’s first courthouse, a very small one-room log house, was completed in early 1849.
The second courthouse for Williamson County Texas was a one story, 14 x 30 foot, wood frame home just off the square on the same block as the log courthouse. This second courthouse was used from 1851 to 1857.
The third courthouse was constructed directly on the square in 1857. This third structure was a 50 foot square, two-story limestone building with 2 foot thick walls and a hipped roof and it was the first stone building in Georgetown. The third courthouse had various structural problems which had to be completed over several years. In 1873, four iron rods that were the length of the building had to be installed to stabilize the entire structure.
The county’s fourth courthouse was designed in 1877 by Austin architect Frederick E. Ruffini and his partner Jasper N. Preston. Ruffini himself was involved in the design of many courthouses in Texas including the Bell and Bastrop County structures. The cost of this fourth Williamson County Courthouse was $27,500 and was a was a large three story Second Empire style building made of stone with pediments, roof cresting, an elaborate cornice, corner pavilions with Mansard cupolas and a large rounded cupola over the front entrance. The new building was completed in 1878. By 1909, the fourth courthouse was no longer considered safe and plans were made to erect a new courthouse.
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The current and fifth Williamson County Courthouse was completed in 1911. The cornerstone was laid Oct. 6, 1910. The building has gone through several renovations and modifications. The architectural style is Greek Revival. With the assistance of the Texas Historical Commission and the dedication of preservation minded county citizens and officials, the fifth courthouse of Williamson County has been returned to its original 1911 splendor, once again becoming a focal point of the county.
Historic Georgetown Texas Masonic Lodge Building
Prior to 1900, the Lodge had a two story wooden building on the same lot, used the upper story for meetings, and rented the first floor to the post office.The current San Gabriel Masonic Lodge building was built in 1900 and is one of the most interesting structures on the Georgetown Courthouse Square. Masonic ceremonies for laying the cornerstone were held July 6, 1900, and the building was completed December 8, of that year.The building is topped off with an onion dome, an architectural element common in Eastern Europe. One hundred and three years after it’s construction, the Masonic Lodge building was renovated in 2003.
Georgetown Texas Events
Located just 27 miles north of Austin, Georgetown is a fun town to visit and features many events throughout the year. Georgetown hosts some of the biggest family friendly events and festivals in the Texas Hill Country. Walk around the Georgetown Square and visit the unique shops including antique stores. You’ll find many great dining choices when in Georgetown which offers kid menus and ranges from American classics, Mexican, French and more.
An excellent website for a calendar of events is…http://visit.georgetown.org/events/
(Article and photos copyright Trips Into History)