Georgetown's history is robust and deep with a new thing to learn around every corner! Our community has been a popular place to live and work for much longer than you'd probably imagine.
Fall in love with Georgetown even more by diving into our community's history. There's plenty of that to explore! If you're ready to kickstart your journey down our city's memory lane, start with the topics and places below.
Southwestern — Special Collections
If you're ready to embark on learning more about Georgetown's history, Southwestern University's Special Collections is the perfect place to start.
People can view materials from a wealth of topics and historic resources like local, Texas, and Southwestern history, as well as collections featuring famous local icons like Senator John Tower and Frank Dobie, just to name a few. Believe it or not, one of its oldest artifacts is from approximately 2000 BCE!
Before going to visit, check out their website and call ahead to be sure of their current hours and available materials.
History of the Square
If you've spent any amount of time in Georgetown, it's likely you've discovered the Historic Downtown Square. The Square, as you see it today, feels like you have been transported to the 20th century through the 1940s (it was home to THREE movie theaters!). During the '70s, '80s, and '90s, the Square was not the vibrant, favorite spot to hang out it is today. But, thanks to intentional revitalization efforts, including one of the first Main Street programs in Texas, the Square is once again a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike!
Soak in this and more history by stopping by the Williamson Museum, visiting Preservation Georgetown (located inside the Grace Heritage Center), and exploring the wide array of historic materials available at the Georgetown Public Library.
The Historic Courthouse
One of the most recognizable buildings in Georgetown is the historic courthouse positioned right in the middle of the downtown Square. This courthouse is the fifth one in Georgetown's history and has been part of some very historic moments, including the very first conviction of KKK members in the nation and the Henry Lee Lucas trial.
You can learn all about it by going on a tour of the Williamson Museum — tours are held every Friday at 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.. Contact the museum at (512) 943-1670 for details and to confirm meeting locations.
The Chisholm Trail and Cattle Drives
While it may be hard to imagine today, Georgetown used to be much dustier and sometimes a little rough. Did you know one of the last Wild West shootouts happened in the 1890s?
Georgetown also used to be routinely full of cattle as part of the drives across the Chisholm Trail. What would eventually be millions of cattle passing through Georgetown, the Chisholm Trail also saw some famous people, too, especially the cowboys and cattle drivers themselves.
Visit The Williamson Museum and the Georgetown Public Library to learn about cowboys, people like Emmanuel Gain, and the historic African Americans who shaped Georgetown's history and the cattle drive.
Neighborhoods and Historic Districts
If you've found the historic Downtown Square, you've probably also stumbled across our beautiful historic homes. These homes are carefully and lovingly preserved and protected by homeowners and organizations like Preservation Georgetown.
Each neighborhood has its own origin story and history including the Belford Historic District, the San Jose Neighborhood, and the Track Ridge Grasshopper Neighborhoods with Shotgun House Museum. Dive into the unique story of each of these areas by visiting Special Collections at Southwestern, Preservation Georgetown, and the Georgetown Cultural Citizen Memorial Association.
We've all seen the Disney movie Cars and the effect an interstate can have on a community. The story of Radiator Springs is very similar to Georgetown but with a bit of twist. The construction of Interstate 35 changed everything, both bypassing and revolutionizing the city all at the same time. While people didn't have to pass directly through the heart of the community to get to Austin anymore, it also breathed new life and transformed Georgetown into a suburb.
Additionally, the creation of the interstate also resulted in the discovery of Inner Space Cavern (that story in and of itself is fascinating) which drives countless numbers of visitors to the caves and nearby city we all live in today.
Learn more about the interstate, Inner Space Cavern's history, and more in the book Road, River and Old Boy Politics by Linda Scarborough.
Georgetown is a popular place to live and move to today, but would you be surprised to know its popularity stretches back much further? Try several thousand years.
The Gault Site was originally discovered in 1929 and has provided archeologists and historians with a wealth of artifacts since. Tours of the site are available through the Williamson Museum and the Gault School of Archeological Research. Tickets are $10 and tour dates are listed on the Williamson Museum website (www.williamsonmuseum.org).
St. David's Georgetown Hospital
One major component of Georgetown's culture is care and compassion for others, and one place you'll see this on full display is at St. David's Georgetown Hospital. They've had a long history of serving our community.
There are two places to start learning about the hospital's story: a book entitled Caring for Georgetown: The Story of Healthcare, a Hospital and a Community by Mary Steger, and the companion documentary by filmmaker Twila LaBar. You can find the book at the Georgetown Public Library and watch the documentary for free through the Georgetown Health Foundation at www.gthf.org/documentary.