Historic Attractions and Events in Georgetown, Texas

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.

georgetown texas shops

Shops around the Georgetown Square

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.

williamson county courthouse history

Williamson County Courthouse in Georgetown, Texas

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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Visit Historic Round Rock Texas

Visit the National Ranching Heritage Center

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.

masonic building georgetown texas history

Historic Masonic Building

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)


Why We Need To Save Our Historic Post Office Buildings

While traveling around the U.S. many historic sites include old post office buildings. The historic appeal of some of these structures has to do with their architectural style, the era in which they were constructed and some of the unique artwork found on their walls and ceilings.

bronx post office

Bronx Post Office Bldg

While these buildings were built to handle mail, some indeed are more like living museums and are important to a communities history. Some are in historic districts and are visited by tourists.

The USPS idea of selling off post office buildings has met with solid opposition from preservation groups from coast to coast. The sales were going to go ahead without adequate time for public comment and fortunately this opposition has had some positive effect.

The Need For Money Meets the Need For Historic Preservation

The USPS has been putting post office buildings, many quite historic, on the selling block  along with an effort to cut back mail delivery to five days a week to help save an estimated $20 billion over the next several years. Their plan to sell some of the larger buildings raises cash faster but the downside of course is that many of the larger facilities have a lot of history attached to them.

old philadelphia post office

Old Philadelphia Main Post Office Building

Architecture Heritage At Risk

Local post office buildings have traditionally played an essential role in the lives of millions of Americans. Many are architecturally distinctive, prominently located, and cherished as civic icons in communities across the country.

Unless the U.S. Postal Service establishes a clear, consistent process that follows federal preservation law when considering disposal of these buildings, a large part of the nation’s architectural heritage will be at risk.

What is key in this controversy are the historic buildings planned for sale and the fact that some are planned for sale to developers. The U.S. Postal Service is required to take several steps before actually selling a building. After announcing their intent to sell a property, it is required to hold a public meeting and a comment period for feedback.

houma louisiana post office

Houma Louisiana Post Office constructed in 1935

Only after this is completed is the USPS allowed to make a final decision about selling. In this respect, some in the opposition feel that due process has been worked around. Others protest the dual roles that developers have had in the actual sale of buildings. On the flip side of this and a major concern for the USPS, holding on to an old building no matter how historic it might be requires a lot of funds for it’s upkeep.

Bronx General Post Office

One very historic structure is the Bronx General Post Office, and it’s beautiful murals  by artists Ben Shahn and Bernarda Bryson Shahn which, was built during the Great Depression as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The USPS believes that the Bronx Post Office has a value of around $14 million. The building went on the market in January 2014.

It was announced in September 2014 that Youngwoo & Associates has purchased the historic Bronx General Post Office.

Berkeley California Post Office Building

The Berkeley Post Office building is located within the city’s Civic Center Historic District and was built in 1914-1915 in the Renaissance Revival-style. The historic post office lobby has a mural by Suzanne Scheuer depicting Berkeley’s history and a limestone bas-relief by David Slivka on the exterior arcade wall are two examples of New Deal-era works of art.

In regards to the building’s sale, Berkeley residents have shown up in droves to city council meetings and hearings with the postal service to voice their concerns. Some city officials, including Mayor Tom Bates, have thrown their support behind efforts to fight the sale of this iconic Berkeley California structure.

As of September 9, 2014, The Berkeley City Council passed a Zoning Overlay.  After a second reading at the next Council meeting, the Zoning Overlay Ordinance will become law. The Berkeley Zoning Overlay provides protections for the Post Office, Old City Hall, and our historic Civic Center against commercial development.

Philadelphia Main Post Office

This very historic post office building in Philadelphia was sold to the University of Pennsylvania for $50.6 million.  now is planning to sell the iconic building to Brandywine Realty Trust, owner of the nearby Cira Centre, for $20 million.

Brandywine Realty Trust completed a $252 million renovation of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Main Post Office, converting the building into office space. While taking on one of the largest historic rehabilitation projects in the nation, Brandywine modernized and retrofitted the building while maintaining its designation as a national historic site.

Brandywine also built a $90 million parking garage to support the new office space, and serve future development.

berkely california historic post office

Beautiful architecture of the Berkeley Post Office Bldg constructed in 1914-15

The National Trust For Historic Preservation

The National Trust For Historic Preservation has outlined goals regarding the sale of post office buildings. These are as follows…

  • Work directly with the U.S. Postal Service and other federal agencies to develop a consistent,  public process that follows established federal preservation law and protects those historic post office buildings identified for closure or sale.
  • Promote and support successful advocacy campaigns for saving post offices around the country.
  • Identify and encourage sensitive and appropriate reuses for post office buildings.
  • Support policy and legal solutions that encourage the preservation and reuse of post offices nationwide.

For more information on the status of post office building sales, see website http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/11-most-endangered/locations/historic-post-office.html

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While the USPS has an urgent need to cut losses and raise money, we believe that the sale of old post office buildings, particularly one’s that have high historic value, must be approached with preservation concerns high on the list.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Photos in the public domain)


Chicago’s Magnificent Mile / Fourth Presbyterian Church

You’ll find this beautiful and historic church among the towering skyscrapers on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago Illinois. The Fourth Presbyterian Church, Fourth Church, as it’s commonly referred to by congregants, has become a destination for churchgoers around the Chicago area. The church’s beautiful glow at night adds immeasurable beauty to Chicago’s downtown area.

fourth church chicago

Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago Illinois

A Church on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile

Fourth Presbyterian Church was built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The church sits in the middle of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district and provides an oasis from the noise of the street. The church is noted for it’s presenting a range of musical events. Fourteen life-size statues of musicians grace the interior, setting the stage for the church’s organ and noonday concerts and for its series of jazz, classical and chamber music.

Two Churches Merge

A Gothic Revival edifice, Fourth Presbyterian Church sits smack in the middle of the Magnificent Mile shopping district, providing a peaceful retreat from the hubbub of the street and presenting a range of musical events. Fourteen life-size statues of musicians grace the interior, setting the stage for the church’s organ and noonday concerts and for its series of jazz, classical and chamber music.
Read more at http://chicago.metromix.com/venues/mmxchi-fourth-presbyterian-church-venue-1#F2wcAtus17Jt7mAI.99

In 1871 two churches merged to form Fourth Presbyterian Church. The Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago was founded in February 1871 when the congregations of Westminster Presbyterian Church and North Presbyterian Church merged. Timing however was not optimal. On October 8 of 1871, the great Chicago fire destroyed Fourth Church’s first worship site the very same night the congregation dedicated it’s new home.

fourth presbyterian church chicago

Interior of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago

During February 1874, the congregation dedicated its new facility on the northwest corner of Rush and Superior Streets. After 40 years at this location, the growing congregation and its many programs called again for a new larger church.

The new congregation worshiped at Superior and Rush for the next forty years from 1874 until 1914. It was then time again to move. The church purchased a plot of land three blocks north, on what would later become Michigan Avenue, and the cornerstone for a new place of worship was laid on September 17, 1912. This new location would eventually become North Michigan Avenue’s ” Magnificent Mile.” When the Michigan Avenue Bridge opened over the Chicago River in 1920 the neighborhood essentially grew up all around the church. Fourth Presbyterian Church is now the oldest surviving structure on Michigan Avenue north of the river

An interesting side note is that the name “Fourth” was chosen not because it was the fourth Presbyterian church to be founded in Chicago. There were several founded before it. North Presbyterian Church is one of the earliest. “Fourth was chosen  because “Fourth” was the lowest number then not in use.

gothic revival architecture

Beautiful Gothic Revival architecture

A Unique Church in the Heart of a City

Fourth Presbyterian Church became the home to influential pastors and wealthy  congregants. Fourth Presbyterian earned both a well deserved civic and national reputation befitting its beautiful Gothic architecture.

Called “a social settlement with a spire,” the church reached out to the poor in the nearby “Little Hell” neighborhood. Fourth Presbyterian helped create the Presbyterian Hospital in 1884, and it was the catalyst for the founding of sister churches in the city’s heavy immigrant areas. The church also became much involved with social activism.  In 1979 Fourth Presbyterian helped to create Atrium Village, an innovative mixed-income housing development.

The Sanctuary Organ

The current Sanctuary organ is a 1971 Aeolian-Skinner Organ, Opus 1516, with 126 ranks, numbering 6,603 pipes. It is the second largest instrument in the city (second only to the organ at the University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Chapel) and one of largest in the Midwest. Some of the existing pipe work dates back to 1914 when Ernest M. Skinner was contracted to build the first pipe organ. That organ contained 59 ranks. Among them was a stop invented by Skinner called the Kleine Erzäehler, which means little storytellers, a stop of which he was most proud.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

The Palace Steamers of the Great Lakes

Lake Michigan and the Carl D. Bradley Sinking

Concerts and Art

Free noonday concerts take place at Fourth Presbyterian Churchin the Sanctuary or Buchanan Chapel (except when otherwise noted) from September through June and outdoors in the courtyard off Michigan Avenue, by the fountain, in July and August.

Weekday evening and Sunday afternoon concerts are also offered occasionally  throughout the year.

When your travels take you to the downtown Chicago area make it a point to stop by this magnificent and unique church. Fourth Presbyterian Church is a must see during your tour of downtown Chicago. The church is located at 126 E Chestnut St, Chicago, IL.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

Visit An Historic Downtown Dallas Texas Museum

The Old Red Museum is a treat to visit and is a fine addition to your Dallas Texas trip planner. The Old red Museum is located in downtown Dallas Texas. The museum is  located in a very historic and renovated building that was built in 1892. It’s remarkable that this 19th century structure served as the Dallas County Courthouse until 1966.

old red museum dallas texas

The Old Red Museum

Today, The Old Red Museum is an excellent venue to learn how this city grew from one man’s 1841 settlement to a major metropolitan area of the twenty-first century. The museum is filled with artifacts, stories and photos about early Dallas and all the way to the present.

The Old Red Museum

The building was constructed of red sandstone in a Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture. The building was known locally as the Old Red Courthouse located at the southwest corner of Commerce and Houston Streets. This 19th century building is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Old Red Museum is on the first floor of the Old Red Courthouse and exhibits the evolution of Dallas. Four permanent exhibits detail the history of Dallas Texas. These four galleries feature 41 interactive touch-screen kiosks making this venue one of the most interactive ones you’ll ever have the opportunity to visit.

old dallas county courthouse

Clock Tower on the Old Dallas County Courthouse

The Children’s Education Center within the museum offers a hands on and interactive experience for kids. Kids can create their own stained glass window and they can , uncover historical features using architecture rubbings. This allows them to find out architectural details that make Dallas buildings very unique. The museum also rotates a series of special exhibits that celebrate unique aspects of Dallas art and history.

This 1892 old Red Courthouse features some of Dallas and Dallas County’s most fascinating historical artifacts. The Old Red Museum also hosts special events. For more information about exhibits and what’s happening at the museum see their Facebook Page at the link below…

The Old red Museum

Dallas Founded During The Days of the Republic of Texas

Dallas Texas was founded in 1841, about five years after the Republic of Texas was founded.

John Neely Bryan from Arkansas built a log cabin in 1841 near a river and called the settlement Dallas. The river is what today is the Trinity floodplain and had existing trails made by the Native American Caddo tribe. The site on the Trinity River where Bryan established his outpost was known as the White Rock Crossing. The crossing was considered easy for wagons before ferry service and bridges were erected.

unique old dallas architecture

Unique architecture of the 1892 building

Bryan’s log cabin would become a trading post. Like some other early settlement, one person might serve several functions. John Bryan served in three capacities. Bryan served as Dallas’ first postmaster, a general store owner and a ferry boat operator. Three years after the founding of this settlement a plan was laid out establishing city blocks that would one day become modern downtown Dallas Texas. Again, this all occurred at the time of the Republic of Texas which would shortly be annexed by the United States in 1845 at the time of the Mexican-American War. Dallas would be incorporated six years later in 1851.

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A Visit to Historic Fredericksburg Texas

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How Dallas Got it’s Name

The story of how Dallas was named Dallas has a few versions.

One version has it named from a naming contest in 1842. A second version says that it may have been named after an 1842 settler named Joseph Dallas. Another is that it was named after a friend of John Neely Bryan. A fourth version has the settlement named after a naval Commodore and yet another version says that it was named after a U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. It has never been concluded exactly which is the official or real version however any of the above versions is possible.

dealey plaza dallas texas

Looking north to Dealey Plaza and the old Texas schoolbook depository Building. Now the site of the Sixth Floor Museum

Visiting The Old Red Museum

The Old Red Museum is located in the heart of downtown Dallas Texas. It is available for both individual and group tours and is currently open 9A-5P daily.

Because The Old Red Museum is located in the heart of Dallas, there’s several other interesting sites to see nearby.  The museum is adjacent to the JFK Memorial and Dealey Plaza, a National Historic Landmark District. It is also across the street from a replica of Dallas founder John Neely Bryan’s cabin and just a block south of The Sixth Floor Museum and the historic West End of Dallas. All of these sites are in easy walking distance to the others and offer excellent photo opportunities.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

A Tour of the Historic Texas Capitol Building

When in Austin Texas, a tour of the state’s beautiful and historic capitol building is both a fun and historically unique outing.

Texas State Capitol Building

The Texas State Capitol built in an Italian Renaissance Revival style was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The capitol building is the largest state capitol by square footage in the entire country. It is also taller than the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. XIT Ranch and the Texas State Capitol The first thing to know about the Texas State Capitol Building is that it was built entirely from ranching funds and that the funds were made possible by the creation of the famous XIT Ranch. At one time the XIT ranch was the world’s largestunder fence and covered a part of ten counties.

Interior top of the Texas State Capitol Dome

Located in downtown Austin Texas and just south of the University of Texas campus, the state capitol was completed in 1886 and was financed  by 3,000,000 acres of public lands in the Texas Panhandle.This new capitol building replaced the previous one built in 1853 that was destroyed by fire. This structure would represent the fourth building housing Texas government. Another impressive historic structure nearby is the Driskill Hotel. Located at 604 Brazos Street, the Driskill Hotel was built in 1886 by cattleman Jesse Driskilland was frequently used by state legislators while the Texas State Capitol Building was being constructed several blocks to the north.

View from the middle of the rotunda

Building the Texas State Capitol There was a competition for plans and designs of the new capitol building which was won by a man named Elijah E. Meyers of Detroit Michigan. Myers also has to is credit the design of the Colorado State Capitol Building. After agreeing on the plans and design, the state legislature then searched for a contractor who would agree to build the massive 360,000 square foot structure in exchange for 3 million acres of land in Texas. An Illinois firm was chosen as the general contractor who in turn farmed out potions to other Illinois contractors. The sunset red granitemaking up the exterior walls was quarried from a site only fifty miles from Austin near Marble Falls Texas.  Granite cutters were actually brought in from Scotland for their expertise.

Restored gun used during Texas Revolution and Civil War at entrance to Texas State Capitol Building

Texas State capitol Grounds The grounds surrounding the Texas State Capitol comprise 22 acres. Here you can view several very unique monuments, the first installed in 1891. This first monument was in honer of the Heroes of the Alamo. In all there are seventeen monuments that surround the capitol building. Among other monuments on the capitol grounds are the Confederate Soldiers, Terry’s Texas Rangers and Volunteer Fireman and the Tejano Monument. The Tejano Monument is comprised of 11 life size bronze statues crafted by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa commemorating the contributions of Texas’ Spanish and Mexican settlers. Another interesting statue found on the Texas State Capitol grounds is a replica of the Statue of Liberty. This statue was created in 1952 Also on the Texas State Capitol grounds are native Texas trees, historic markers and cannons. There are a total of twenty-five tree species found on the capitol grounds. The Trail of Trees takes about one hour to cover. For a brochure detailing this trail on the Texas capitol grounds see website http://isatexas.com/Members/Trail_of_Trees_at_the_Texas_Capitol.htm Below are links to additional Trips Into History articles you may enjoy… Touring the Texas Hill Country The Confederate Navy

Monument on grounds of Texas State Capitol

Interesting Facts About the Texas State Capitol Building When the state capitol was completed after four years of construction in 1886 it co