Early Commercial Building Historical Marker, Round Rock, Texas

Marker Text

Erected to house private banks as well as hardware and lumber business of John A. Nelson and Associates. Bank was closed in 1922; commercial use continues. Architecturally important for the facade of cast iron and pressed tin. Ornamented pilasters and columns of this type were used in many late 19th-early 20th century structures in central Texas. This front is notable for its continuous preservation. the building is of native limestone.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1970.

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GPS coordinates
Latitude: 30.508821 Longitude: -97.67766

Address: 203 E Main St

Taken from DAILY TEXAN July 10, 1910 JOHN A. NELSON & CO

Banks are a blessing to any community, especially such strong and successful banking institutions as John A. Nelson L: Co. (Unincorporated). From the first, the bank succeeded, and it has continued to succeed and stands today as a monument to energy, enterprise, and good business judgment. The general banking business is transacted, and every courtesy is extended to its patrons consistent with safe and legitimate banking.

John A. Nelson & Co. are not only well-known and successful bankers, but they are also extensive dealers in hardware and agricul­tural implements.

They also carry a very large stock of saddlery, buggies, wagons, tinware, etc., as well as lumber, shingles, sash, etc. They do a wholesale and retail business, and their customers are num­bered by the hundreds, not alone in Round Rock but throughout the trade territory which belongs to the city and her merchants.

You can save money by coming to Round Rock and patronizing this large store.

They have the right goods, and the prices on them are as low as you will find anywhere in the country. This large business is owned by some of the prominent citizens in Round Rock as follows:

John A. Nelson, Carl A. Nelson, W. E. Henna, 0. L. Brady, 0. A. Voight, and J. E. Gustafson.


Later records show, the Bank was discontinued in 1922, but the old bank vault still remains in the building. The hardware and lumber business was continued for a number of years.

Following the hardware and lumber business, the building was used as a chicken hatchery for about two years.

The building is now owned by the Farmers State Bank and is occupied by the Associated Milk Producers Cooperative. It was restored in 1970 by the Farmers State Bank under the direction of E. J. Revell of Austin, Texas.

J.A.Nelson and Company - - Architectural Description

A renovated two-story cut limestone rubble commercial structure with a cast iron and pressed tin front. The building is situated on a corner lot on the main street. The facade is divided horizontally into two stories. The vertical divisions are made with varying rhythms and great skill, differing on each level and unified by an even pattern below 'the cornice. A wide pilaster in the center of the building at the first story level marks the major division. Each side is further divided; tithe one to the left consisting of two wide bays flanking two narrow bays at the first story, each bay marked by narrow pilasters, and three windows above framed by two engaged columns, and just to the left of the middle pilaster, a double door with a window above-it at the second story, this window also framed with engaged columns; the second major division, to the right of the pilaster is again divided into two quite different parts, the larger one just to the right of the pilaster is made up of three wide evenly-spaced bays, divided by pilasters, the center bay of the three containing a second double door, all-with three windows above, the second part is at the far right and corresponds to the double door of the left side of the building except that this bay with double door is chamfered from the main plane, has a double window above at the second-story level, and boasts its own small parapet.

All of the first-floor windows are plate glass and have two pairs of horizontal molded panels below and one narrow horizontal panel above.

The three entrances have wooded double doors with plate glass panels and four square molded panels beneath. Two pairs of doors have wooden molded sills beneath the plate glass, and one has rows of closely spaced dentils beneath the sills. Wide plywood panels with applied molding strips fill the transom area above each window and door: these vary with the width of the bays and are effective in pointing up the change in rhythms of the first story of the facade.

Cast iron pilasters mark the divisions at the first story and engaged columns at the second.

The largest pilasters at the ends and center have attached cast iron bases with vertically channeled designs, knobs, fans, and half-fans as an ornament. The pilasters have center bands decorated with fans, trefoils, and half-fans. There are fanciful capitals. The smaller pilasters of the minor divisions are modified versions of the larger ones, although they have heavy molded attached wooden bases instead of attached cast iron bases. A few of the windows have plain wooden jambs instead of columns or pilasters. The second story windows have louvered shutters kept closed.

There is a wide intermediate cast-iron cornice between the first and second stories with a spaced guilloche design on the ovolo molding of its uppermost member.

Pressed tin panels fill the area between the windows and between the columns. Those between the windows are wider and have elaborate urns and dolphins (or fanciful fish) in volute patterns. The narrower pressed tin panels between the applied columns have abstract circular patterns. The columns themselves have rosettes set in three square panels in their bases and fanciful Ionic capitals. There are ten in all, and they mark the principal and secondary divisions of the second story of the facade.

There is a wide frieze above the windows of pressed metal with molded fan arches made up of petals marking each window head and with a square molded panel set between each fan, uniting the varied rhythm of the first two stories into a regular pattern at the entablature. Above this frieze, there is a second narrower frieze with pressed metal swags. The cornice itself has a repeated pattern of scallop shells interspaced with small pediment shapes accenting each modillion at the overhang. The chamfered bay at the far right has the owner's name, J.A. Nelson and Co., above the second story window and has a small parapet with patterned canted supports as well as modillions and four finials that look like urn lids.

Above the cornice at the center of the long side, there is a two-part stepped parapet with a small pediment and two urns (one missing its finial) with the words LUMBER, J.A.NELSON & CO., HARDWARE on the bottom section, a swagged frieze on the top section, and the date 1900 in the pediment above.

The building is painted a muted soft green, with white trim used with discretion on the cornice, the pilasters and engaged columns, some of the horizontal moldings, and on some of the trim on the first story. The shutters and doors are a darker muted soft green.

The right side of the building is cut limestone painted the same green as the front.

The walls are thick, and toward the rear, there are six segmentally arched openings at both the first and second stories. The openings for the eleven windows are deeply cut, and the stonework in the two large voussoirs and keystone in each arch is outstanding. The windows are shuttered with board shutters. There is a new metal overhead door installed in the door opening. The left side of the building is solid limestone rubble, painted a muted soft green. The rear is unpainted, of cut limestone, with two doors on the first story, one with a segmental arch, one with a straight metal lintel, both with corrugated tin doors. There are two windows above the arched door, both shuttered. The upper half of the rear facade, that over the door with the lintel has been altered and filled in with stone. There are very large leader-heads on this rear section. The cast iron of the front is stamped ST. LOUIS. MECHAM BROTHERS(?) FRONT BUILDERS, ST. LOUIS, pat. 87

There are columns and pilasters on many buildings along Highway 79 that are identical to these on this building; Calvert, Herne, Caldwell all have buildings with some of the same parts. However, this is the only complete facade as far as we know.

Architectural al description prepared from conferences - Survey Records