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 City News
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Round Rock receives official Texas Historical Marker

The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has recognized Round Rock’s downtown as a significant part of Texas history by awarding it an Official Texas Historical Marker. The designation honors Round Rock’s downtown as an important and educational part of local history.

 downtown historical marker
The Historical Marker is located in the new Main Street Plaza park across the street from the library in downtown.
The marker, unvieled at the opening of the new Main Street Plaza, highlights the establishment of the Round Rock’s Commercial Historic District, which is a two-block area listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The historic district in downtown Round Rock exemplifies the rise of commercial development following the arrival of the railroad. As throughout much of central Texas, the Round Rock town site and local economy was based on residents’ ability to buy commodities, sell their wares, communicate and travel via railway lines.

The district includes Italianate and local vernacular architecture, reflecting both a popular style of the time for commercial buildings as well as the efforts of local builders and craftsmen. The predominant use of limestone ashlar masonry instead of brick also sets this district apart from many other historic downtowns in the region.

This Official Texas Historical Marker is the 33rd marker in Round Rock and the 251st in Williamson County, which ranks seventh among all Texas counties in number of markers.

“The Official Texas Historical Marker program helps bring attention to community treasures and the importance of their preservation,” said Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the THC. “Awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of our state’s history. This designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of important cultural resources.”

A subject qualifies for a marker if two basic criteria are met: historical significance and age. Historical significance is established by reviewing its role and importance in local history, and the age requirement depends on the topic. The THC’s Official Texas Marker Policies are outlined in the Official Texas Historical Marker Procedures, which may be obtained by contacting the History Programs Division, Texas Historical Commission, at (512) 463-5853.

In addition to the new historical marker downtown, the City has installed 24 individual historic building placards in the two-block commercial historic district. The building placards present photos and text about each of the buildings.

Round Rock’s marker and the building placards were purchased through the City’s Historic Preservation Education and Awareness Program, which was funded in part by a $10,000 grant from the federal Certified Local Government program, U. S. Department of the Interior, as administered by the Texas Historical Commission.

For more information about Round Rock’s Historic Preservation Program, contact Joelle Jordan, Planning and Development Services Department, at (512) 218-5422.

The plaque reads as follows:

ROUND ROCK

PERMANENT SETTLEMENT BEGAN IN THIS AREA IN THE LATE 1830s. BY 1848, FORMER AUSTIN MAYOR JACOB HARRELL MOVED HERE, SELLING TOWN LOTS NEAR THE STAGECOACH ROAD CROSSING AT BRUSHY CREEK. A POST OFFICE NAMED “BRUSHY CREEK” OPENED IN 1851 IN THOMAS OATTS’ STORE. THREE YEARS LATER, THE NAME CHANGED TO “ROUND ROCK” FOR A DISTINCTIVE LIMESTONE FORMATION MARKING A NATURAL FORD FOR WAGONS. WITH IMMIGRATION FROM SEVERAL STATES AND SWEDEN, THE POPULATION DOUBLED DURING THE 1850s, BRINGING NEW STORES, CHURCHES, FRATERNAL LODGES AND GRAIN MILLS. THE FIRST INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING, ROUND ROCK ACADEMY, BEGAN IN 1862. AFTER THE CIVIL WAR, THE FORMER TRAIL AND STAGE ROAD BECAME A PROMINENT CATTLE DRIVE ROUTE.

IN 1876, THE INTERNATIONAL-GREAT NORTHERN RAILROAD DEVELOPED A NEW TOWNSITE EAST OF THE EXISTING ROUND ROCK. A COMMERCIAL DISTRICT SPRANG UP ALONG GEORGETOWN AVENUE (MAIN STREET) WITH CONSTRUCTION OF MANY LIMESTONE BUILDINGS. “NEW TOWN” QUICKLY ECLIPSED THE ESTABLISHED SETTLEMENT, WHOSE POSTAL NAME CHANGED AGAIN TO “OLD ROUND ROCK.” FOR MONTHS, THE NEW SITE WAS THE RAILROAD TERMINUS, BRINGING LUMBER AND FLOUR MILLS, COTTON GINS, BLACKSMITH AND WAGON SHOPS, BANKS, HOTELS, RESTAURANTS, STORES AND SCHOOLS. ROUND ROCK CHALLENGED THE STATE CAPITAL FOR ECONOMIC CONTROL OF CENTRAL TEXAS, BOASTING SIX HOTELS TO AUSTIN’S FIVE AND SERVING AS THE RETAIL HUB FOR SEVERAL COUNTIES TO THE WEST. THE RAILROAD ALSO MADE ROUND ROCK A MORE COSMOPOLITAN PLACE, BRINGING NEW RESIDENTS FROM ALL OVER THE U.S. AND ALL AROUND THE WORLD. WELL-POSITIONED FOR GROWTH BY ITS LOCATION ON MAJOR TRANSPORTATION ROUTES, ROUND ROCK BECAME ONE OF THE NATION’S FASTEST-GROWING CITIES BY THE LATE 20TH CENTURY. TWO DOZEN COMMERCIAL BUILDINGS IN ROUND ROCK’S HISTORIC DOWNTOWN WERE LISTED IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES IN 1983.
(2009)

MARKER IS PROPERTY OF THE STATE OF TEXAS

Posted: Tuesday, October 04, 2011

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