Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Georgetown's Historic Town Square -- 1

We chose to stay in Georgetown, Texas, which is about 25 miles north of Austin. We thought that this would provide easy access to the sights and restaurants of Austin. However, our drive through the downtown area of this city of 48,000 residents revealed many reasons to spend more time touring Georgetown than we expected.

Our first area to visit was the historic downtown square. We parked a block away and saw this scene along the sidewalk leading to the town square.
We started on Austin Avenue on the west side of the Williamson County Courthouse (see the entry two days ago about the Courthouse).
View of Austin Avenue (above and below) as seen from the Courthouse

View of Austin Avenue from street level

David Love Building, 1883

David Love, a prosperous merchant constructed this limestone and pressed metal structure to house his dry good business.
Mileham Building, 1891 (next three photos)

Mesker Brothers of St. Louis manufactured highly decorative sheet metal storefronts. Virtually every structure on the square includes some amount of metal detailing.
The Mileham Building stands as a grand example of a Mesker Brothers pressed metal storefront.
The building had been used as a buggy repository (first floor) and a tin shop (second floor) before housing a hardware store for several decades.
714 South Austin Avenue, 1889

Constructed to house general merchandise, this building is a fine example of limestone masonry--note the segmental arched headers with keystones over the windows and an elegantly detailed pressed metal cornice.

The mortar (but missing pestle) atop the front façade recalls Hodges Brothers Drugs, which operated in this building for several decades.
Farmers State Bank Building, 1910

The intact terra cotta façade with Corinthian columns is an excellent example of the Neoclassical style for which bankers of that day expressed a preference. In front of the building is a statue.

The figure is a statue of the county’s namesake, Robert McAlpin Williamson--perhaps better known these days as “Three-Legged Willie.”

Born in Georgia, Williamson was 15 when he was afflicted with tubercular arthritis. This caused his right-leg to stiffen--permanently--at a 90-degree angle. A wooden leg was fastened to Williamson’s right knee, so he could walk. The end result left him with one good leg, one bad leg, and one wooden leg--leading to the descriptive nickname he acquired in life.

He was a soldier, statesman, lawyer and newspaper publisher, but there is some question if he ever lived in the county--or even visited it (Brad Stutzman at
Stromberg-Hoffman & Co., c. 1926

The front exterior was covered with a simple brick façade in the 1920's. This early brickwork was discovered intact beneath the stucco veneer applied in the mid-twentieth century.
View of Eighth Street (above and below) as seen from the Courthouse

In 1917, the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected a memorial to confederate soldiers and sailors at the south entrance of the fifth and current Williamson County Courthouse. (We learned that statues of Confederate soldiers always face south.)
Views of the Palace Theater, 1925 (above and below)
Originally built of exposed buff-colored brick, the Palace was remodeled in 1936 to its present Art Deco appearance and is the only building of that period found in Georgetown.

As we turned the corner onto Eighth Street, we saw this sign (below). The bottom area of practice caught our attention.
The pink bicycle (below) outside the Pink Poppy was equally attention-grabbing.

The Emporium, c. 1889 (left) and the T.W. Marks Building, c. 1889 (right)

The most recent remodeling of the Emporium highlights the vertical glass panes in the three transom windows on the front façade. Over the years, it was occupied by a tailor, a meat market/sausage factory, a confectionery, jewelry store, and an ice cream factory.

The Marks Building used corrugated metal infill topped with a decorative cornice, which was more economical than the decorative Mesker Brothers components.
Allen & Landrum Building, 1907-1908

A pressed metal cornice with details crowns the front façade and provides a unified front for what was originally two separate structures..
Lesesne-Stone Building, 1884

Skilled masons constructed walls of dressed limestone ashlar into which handsome arched windows were incorporated. Stone's Drug Store occupied the ground floor when the structure was originally completed.

The descriptions of the buildings were direct quotes from the brochure "A Walking Tour of Historic Downtown Georgetown." See also


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