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.

See more Trips Into History Articles on the links below…..

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)

 

Visit the Famous Bat Towers of Dr. Charles Campbell

At one time the world had 14 Bat Towers. Seven of these were built in Italy. Today, there are only a few remaining that you can view. One is in Florida and two are in Texas. This article is about why and how these old towers were built, how they operated, the man who designed them and where in the U.S. you can still see them. If your travels take you anywhere near where the surviving Bat Towers are located you may want to add a stop there to your trip planner.

The story of the Bat Towers designed by Dr. Charles Campbell is quite unique and quite interesting. It’s a story about a medical doctor who devised a plan to fight one of the most feared diseases of his era, malaria.

florida bat tower

Sugarloaf Key, Florida-Perky’s Bat Tower

Bat Towers Built to Help Fight Against Malaria

Dr. Charles Campbell worked as a city bacteriologist in San Antonio Texas around the turn of the twentieth century. Dr. Campbell was a physician who began experimenting with ways to eradicate malaria which accounted for millions of deaths worldwide annually. This was a natural thing for the doctor to do since he personally treated the malarial sick and knew that the disease was carried by mosquitoes. The question was, how do we cut down on malarial carrying mosquitoes.

The Bat Towers, also referred to as Malaria-Eradicating Guano Producing Bat Roosts, were designed and built to be a deluxe bat house that the bats would continue to come back to so they could feast on the mosquitoes. The towers were usually built in wet areas where mosquitoes were most prevalent.

See the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower

Also named Perky’s Bat Tower, the structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Even though the local county commissioners at the time thought the bat tower plan was laughable they allowed it to be built.

The tower was built in 1929 by Richter Clyde Perky, a fish lodge owner with plans purchased by a  from Dr. Campbell. The tower was pretty well built as it survived several hurricanes. The purpose of this particular thirty foot tall tower was to help control the mosquito problem in the Lower Keys. Perky was also a real estate developer and the mosquito problem, and trying to get it under control, was a major issue for the success of his developments. Probably the biggest problem for tourists at that time in the Lower Keys was the mosquito problem.

comfort texas bat roost

The Bat Roost in Comfort Texas

Perky’s Bat Tower is definitely off the beaten path. The traveler who enjoys adventure will find this somewhat awkward yet very unique historic structure well worth a stop at. The bat tower, which is free to visit, is located just ff Hwy 1. When driving south on Hwy 1 take a right hand turn on Bat Tower Road toward the airport.

Comfort Texas Bat Tower

The Comfort Texas Bat Tower is located off of FM473 East of IH10 on the Albert Steves Property. The name of this bat tower on the banks of the Guadalupe River is the  “Hygieostatic Bat Roost” This is about thirty miles from San Antonio. You can see the tower from the road.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

 Visit Fredericksburg Texas

Touring the Texas Hill Country

 Orange Texas Bat Tower

This bat tower is located at the Shangri-La Gardens in Orange Texas. Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center comprising 252 acres is a world-class venue which is an excellent trip stop for the entire family. Orange Texas is on the border with Louisiana about 110 miles east of Houston.

campbell bat roost

Dr. Charles Campbell

How Effective Were Dr. Campbells Bat Towers?

Most research on the project will tell you that, in it’s entire existence, not one bat ever roosted in the Sugarloaf Key Bat Tower. There’s a story that Perky even sent someone to Cuba to try to bring their bats back to Florida. Perky also put bait in the tower with an unknown bait (obtained from Dr. Campbell) but this also didn’t work because a storm washed away the box. In the meantime Dr. Campbell had passed away and the bait formula was not obtainable.  Campbell reportedly sold the bait for $500 per box.

As a result, mosquitoes continued to rule on Sugarloaf Key and did indeed continue to bother the endeavors of Richter Clyde Perky.

Regardless of the results of Dr. Charles Campbell’s Bat Towers during the early part of the nineteenth century, the surviving bat towers that are largely off the beaten path offer a very unique trip into history.

If your travels take you to the Florida Keys, Comfort Texas or Orange Texas, a short stop at any of these three gives you a glimpse of one man’s experiment to help eradicate malaria.

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

The National Ranching Heritage Center / A Texas Treasure

If you want to learn more about Texas ranching and pioneer life on the western frontier, a visit to the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock Texas is where you what you want to add to your Texas trip planner. The National Ranching Heritage Center is a magnificent museum that is well maintained and extremely informative. If you love Texas pioneer history then this venue is a must stop. This is one of the best Lubbock attractions you’ll entirely enjoy.

ranching museum lubbock texas

National Ranching Heritage Center, Lubbock, Texas

The National Ranching Heritage Center was dedicated in 1976 however the planning, the securing of financial resources and the gathering of  western, ranch and pioneer exhibits including historic structures took place over the prior decade.

What to See

Located on the north boundary of the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock, this amazing western museum comprising thirty acres features about fifty buildings that include a schoolhouse, barns, and very well preserved houses, etc. There are thirty-eight ranch structures. Each of them have been authentically and historically restored and furnished. Many of the ranch buildings are from history’s most important ranches.  The buildings date from the late 1800’s to the mid twentieth century. The homesteads on display date from the time that the panhandle of Texas was settled and it’s pretty easy to appreciate what these settlers went through when you visit.

The photo below is the Hedwig’s Hill Dogtrot House that was originally built in Mason County Texas near the Llano River. This house was built as two log cabins under a common roof separated by a breezeway called a dogtrot. This architecture was very common on the frontier.

historic ranch buildings

Hedwig’s Hill Dogtrot House

Also at the museum is a large collection of western art and ranching artifacts. You’ll also view nearly 200 vintage and antique firearms and about 1,000 pairs of spurs.

The National Ranching Heritage Center hosts several events throughout the year. Included is a chuck wagon dinner and a concert during the spring. During the summer are fiddle dances and an event named “Candlelight at the Ranch” in December. As an interesting side note, Texas rancher Charles Goodnight was credited with developing the first chuck wagon. Goodnight reportedly built his chuck wagon using a Civil War surplus Studebaker wagon.

old frontier cabin

El Capote Cabin

The National Ranching Heritage Center sponsors the Junior Rough Riders, a membership organization for youths. Some of the programs that are part of the membership are coloring contests, summer youth classes, children’s library, Heritage Halloween and Ranch Day.

As of this writing, the National Ranching Heritage Center is open seven days a week. M-Sat 10A-5P. Sun 1-5P. The Historical Park closes at 4P every day. The National Ranching Heritage Center is located at 3121 4th St., at the north boundary of the Texas Tech University campus in Lubbock Texas.

The Ranches of the Texas Panhandle

It is quite appropriate that a large ranching museum is located in Lubbock Texas. It just so happens that some of the largest and more famous ranches in our country were in the Texas Panhandle area of the state.

Among these would be the XIT and the JA. The XIT, established during the early 1880’s, and the money paid for it by investors financed the building of the Texas State Capital Building in Austin. That same building, constructed of local pink granite, is still today the state capital building of Texas.

The JA Ranch was established by veteran rancher Charles Goodnight and John Adair. The ranch was centered in the Palo Duro Canyon area of the Panhandle. Goodnight is often referred to as the Father of the Texas Panhandle.

You may also enjoy the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

The Famous Ranches of Old Texas

Cattle Drives and Cowboys / What It Was Really Like

The Wells Fargo Stagecoach / Photos and History

On our Western Trips site you might enjoy our article and visit to the Panhandle Plains Museum in Canyon, Texas.

spanish frontier homes

Los Corralito’s historic structure

Historic Frontier Structures

As mentioned above, the National Ranching Heritage Center exhibits dozens of historic buildings and structures. This makes it one of the most unique of Lubbock attractions.

Among those featured in this article is the Hedwig’s Hill Dogtrot House explained above.

Also shown in a photo above is the El Capote Cabin.from the period 1836 to 1845. This was the period of the Republic of Texas. This cabin was located in what is now Guadalupe County, Texas. Construction material included winged elm logs chinked with mud from a nearby stream bed. The roof material was hand split pecan shakes and the floor of the cabin was compacted earth which was very common in that period and in that locale. This architecture was very prevalent in early frontier cabins.

national ranching heritage center photos

One area of the National Ranching Heritage Center

The Los Corralito’s structure shown above was a fortified home from Zapata County Texas. The structure is distinctive with it’s 33 inch thick walls, one door and no windows and six gun ports for defense.

It’s thought that Los Corralito’s rancho might have been the earliest rancho in Texas with standing structures. The walls of this defensive building were made of cut sandstone along with mud and mortar. The term los corralito’s in Spanish means “little corrals“.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Trips Into History)

 

Explore Western Art in San Antonio Texas

A visit to San Antonio Texas is always a trip into history. At one time the largest city in Spanish and Mexican ruled Tejas, today San Antonio Texas offers the tourists several historic Spanish missions, historic structures such as the Pioneer Flour Mill, the King William Historic District and the very popular San Antonio River Walk. In addition to these there are plenty more historic sites to visit.

wells fargo stage coach

Wells Fargo stage coach exhibit

The Briscoe Western Art Museum

Along the River Walk there’s another quite unique venue you may enjoy visiting. This is the Briscoe Western Art Museum is located on the River Walk and whose street address is 210 W. Market Street. The museum resides in the same historic building that once housed the Hertzberg Circus Museum. At this time many people are not acquainted with this museum since it is so new.

The Brisco Western Art Museum, which actually had been planned over a ten year period, opened it’s doors in late October 2013 to a very well attended ribbon cutting ceremony. The museum came to being by a public/ private partnership which included a $4 million dollar contribution by the Brisco Family. A partnership between the national Western Art Foundation, City of San Antonio and Bexar County created the Dolph and Janey Briscoe Western Art Museum.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum is named after former Texas governor Dolph Briscoe. Briscoe was the 41st Governor of Texas. The museum is highlighted with art from the Briscoe Family collection. The museum exhibits are displayed on three different levels of the museum.

river walk san antonio boats

River Walk boat rides along the San Antonio River.

The  museum is meant to educate the public that Texas history started with the Native Americans, and then from there to the Spanish, and from there to the Mexicans, and then to the Texicans, who then became known as Texans, then the confederacy years, and after those eras to become a big part of American history.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum Campus includes the historic Museum building, the Jack Guenther Pavilion and the adjacent McNutt Courtyard & Sculpture Garden spread across 1 1/4 acres in downtown San Antonio. The museum is a gem along the San Antonio River.

san antonio river

Another view of the San Antonio River

Briscoe Western Art Museum Exhibits

If you’re interested in cattle drives, the old west and Texas history this is a museum you do not want to miss.

The first floor lobby area of the museum has an art deco / neo-classical decor.

The second floor mezzanine level features Western painting, sculpture and photography.

The museum’s third level features a chuckwagon, Alamo Battle diorama and several galleries.

Among the many exhibits is a beautiful reproduction of a Wells Fargo stagecoach, a fine restoration of a cattle drive chuck wagon, an example of classic Aeromotor windmill, saddles, spurs, firearms, sculptures, paintings, photos and a diorama of the Alamo Battle. The art collection has an excellent blend of mixed media.

See the Trips Into History articles below…

The Historic Alamo

The Resting Place of the Alamo Defenders in San Antonio

Also our Western Trips articles on the links below…

A San Antonio Historic Hotel

The Guenther House and Pioneer Flour Mill

From Trips Into History see…

Visit Luling Texas / Railroads, Oil and Watermelons

Additional Attractions Along the San Antonio River Walk

While you’re visiting the San Antonio Riverwalk and the Briscoe Western Art Museum you’ll want to see the La Villita Historic Arts Village which is also one of San Antonio’s oldest neighborhoods. La Villita was originally settled nearly 300 years ago as one of the city’s first neighborhoods. This arts village of one square block has been in existence since 1939 and features all types of art…sculptures, oil paintings, pottery and much more. You’ll also want to check out events planned at the arts village before your trip to San Antonio. La Villita Historic Arts Village is adjacent to the hotels and the Riverwalk. La Villita hosts some of San Antonio’s best parties with festivals, concerts and celebrations scheduled year-round. See their website at www.lavillita.com

san antonio texas museums

Briscoe Western Art Museum

If you take a boat ride on the San Antonio River along the River Walk, which is highly recommended, you’ll learn quite a lot about San Antonio and the construction of the Riverwalk itself. The cruise is 35 minutes long and passes by the RiverCenter Mall which is the only mall in the U.S. that actually has a river running through it.

Along the San Antonio River and the River Walk is the Arneson River Theater.  This outdoor theater directly on the River Walk becomes a festival of lights during the Christmas and New Year holiday period. You’ll also hear local sounds of folklorico and flamenco music during the summer months and especially during celebrations such as the Fiesta Noche del Rio.

(Article 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.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

A Visit to Historic Fredericksburg Texas

Touring The Texas Hill Country

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)