Lesesne-Stone - KGTN Building Historical Marker, Georgetown, Texas

Historical Marker Text

(The KGTN Building) This limestone commercial structure was built in 1884 to house the Sanders & Lesesne Drugstore. It remained in use as a pharmacy for the next 76 years. William D. Nichols operated the drugstore from 1887 until 1892. In that year, Dr. Thomas B. Stone acquired the business, which was known as Stone's for more than 50 years. The Georgetown landmark, which exhibits Italianate influences, features arched windows and a pressed metal cornice.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1983

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.636564 - Longitude: -97.677174
UTM 14 R - Easting: 626800 - Northing: 338965

Address: 102 West 8th Street

KGTN BUILDING 102 West 8th and 806//8021/2 Main
Georgetown, Texas - July 1983
Narrative by Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Georgetown

The two-story Victorian commercial building erected in 1884 and known in 1983 as the KGTN Building, with front entrance at 103 West 8th (originally Oak) Street and side entries at 804 and 8021/2 South Main, Georgetown, Texas, is southeast of the Courthouse. An ornamental pediment prominently displays the construction date on the front of the building. A Deed of Trust executed Feb. 6, 1884, permitted the new owner, S. M. Lesesne, to borrow $4,000 for the purpose of erecting "improve­ments" on the lot [1], a fact noted in a February 1884 issue of the Williamson County Sun. The previous owner, Thomas W. Marrs, had a sign on his one-story wooden structure, "T. W. Marrs Dry Goods," operated between Sept. 1880 and June 1883. [2]

Handcut and finely-dressed Limestone forms the exterior of the east side and the upper story of the north front.

At ground level, the north front is a combination of frame and glass. Also on the front just above the beaded awning are three transomed windows, above which is a strip of rubble stone the width of the building. Both rubble and cut stone were plastered for many years as shown in photographs of the early 1900s. [3] The plaster was removed from the facade in 1983. The north front second story has three semicircular ordered windows and a moderately elaborate metal cornice with pediment. The east wall has five similar windows, and three plain designs are located on the upper south wall. Three porthole windows are located toward the north end of the east wall high on the first-floor level.

Old-timers recall an ornamental metal stairway attached to the outside of the building on the east wall about the turn of the century.

[4] There is evidence of such an installation in a pattern of holes, some with ring hardware still in them, located diagonally up to the second floor level on a proper slant for a stairway. Sanford maps for 1885 show an interior stair; for 1889, 1894, and 1900, no stair, and the map for 1905 again indicates an interior stairway in the same position as the present one leading to the second-floor offices. [5]

The north front entry is slightly recessed.

Originally, a decorative edging was painted along the upper rim of the entry walls but is now obscured by a false ceiling designed to conceal air conditioning ducts and considerable wiring required by Radio Station KGTN, housed on the second floor. Fluted cast-iron columns at each side of the front door act as decorative supports and reach to second-floor level.

Texas Historical Commission architect Dick Ryan examined the building early in 1983 and found it remarkably intact in its original form, the main exception being the ground floor front facade, bricked over in 1961-62, at which time the entry door was moved from center to corner position and the iron columns concealed behind the brick. This arrangement was requested by the new tenant, Sam Brady Insurance Agency. John Smith was the contractor for the work.6 During the 1983 restoration, the brick was removed revealing the columns, and the entryway changed to its center Position. New wood frames replaced rotted ones on the three transomed windows and the three porthole windows. Glass and wood show windows were built in a design similar to the originals. The restoration plans were approved by the City of Georgetown Historical Committee. [7]

An interior restoration in 1981 was done on the south wall alongside the stairway.

Crumbling plaster was removed to reveal attractive rubble stone. At the lower level, places for a south door with a window on each side which had served the original building in 1884 when it was free-standing, had been filled in with brick, probably about 1900 when a structure was built on the south wall of KGTN's building. In the restoration, the brick was removed and matching rubble filled the spaces. The entire wall was pointed up and the rubble left uncovered. Wesley King of Round Rock was the contractor.

The building is 23 2/3 feet wide, 100 feet long, has 18-inch thick exterior walls, which are 27 feet high. It is directly south of the Town Square.

"It is because of its architectural character that the building's role of anchoring the corner of the block has been retained. When combined with the other structures at the intersection of Main and 8th Street, they display, more than any other corner on the Square, the architectural genre of Georgetown's commercial • property built during the late 19th century. [8]

The 1983 restoration work was done by Carl and Jane Cooley of Houston, who were responsible for all stonework and painting.

Refraining of windows and front facade show windows and framing was done by Tom Etherton, contractor, of Round Rock.

Neither the architect nor the construction firm for the 1884 structure is known. From 1850, when the local census listed three stonemasons, Georgetown, and the area has had excellent stone craftsmen, including Swedish and German settlers. These were repeatedly called upon by builders for many of the fine stone structures here. [9] George and Tom Irvine, of Scottish ancestry, were Georgetown pioneers who in 1878 established a lumber and contracting business that they operated until 1890. Whit­tle and Harrell Lumber Company contracted from about 1883 until 1892. It seems likely that one of these two firms did the building. Several stone quarries were developed soon after the Civil War in western Williamson County, including Liberty Hill, Bagdad (Leander), Florence, and White Stone. Nearly all the stone used in this county came from one of these quarries. Other materials needed for the building could be shipped in after 1878 by the Georgetown Tap Line Railroad. [10]

Information about property owners follows:

Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas, signed a patent for 1/3 league to Clement Stubblefield on Aug. 19, 1844. Thomas B. Huling, a legislator, bought the land from Stubblefield for $500 on Feb. 20, 1846, and, the following year, took George Washington Glasscock, a surveyor, as a partner. Huling knew from his legislative vantage point that a county would soon be formed on this land and delegated Glasscock to promote locating the county seat on a portion of that land. A bargain was agreed upon between Glasscock, who offered 172 acres if the site would be named Georgetown for him and be on his land, and the newly-appointed county officials. The site encompassed the Courthouse district of Georgetown. The next year after some legal difficulties, Huling and Glasscock dissolved their partnership, and Glasscock lost his power of attorney. But the deal remained and the first public sale of part of the 172 acres was held July 4, 1848, the county reserving a tract for itself. The KGTN Building stands on the county tract. [11]

On June 29, 1852, Chief Justice (now County Judge) Greenleaf Fisk, acting for Williamson County, sold lot 4 of block 51 (originally numbered lot 8 of block 2), size 60 feet by 120 feet, at the corner of Oak (now 8th) and Church streets, to Evan Williams for $27.50. Williams had signed the petition to form the county in 1848; the 1850 census listed him as a farmer. Williams also owned other property around the Square and in 1853 was rented to the county "both rooms in his large new building" at $2.50 a day. He understood construction, for when the county was erecting its first stone courthouse 1854-57 and had trouble with their contractor, Williams was called in to complete the job. [12]

On Jan. 19, 1853, Evan Williams sold his lot on block 51 for $200 to Thomas C. Elgin and Edwin B. Davis. Ezra Cartledge bought it from them for $350 on Mar. 11, 1854.

Elsewhere in town, Cartledge had a grocery store and was licensed to sell liquor in 1856. He died in 1856 and the property went to Sanford Morris, who sold it for $1000 to Isaac G. John of Bastrop County, on April 16, 1856. John immediate­ly resold it for $1500 to John M. McMiller and John M. Brown of Washington County. [13]

Dr. David F. Knight, on Jan. 30, 1860, paid Brown and McMiller $800 for the corner property on which "a large concrete storehouse" stood.

He transferred it on Aug. 29, 1866, to James Knight, Joseph B. Knight, and Cyrus Eubank. James Knight had been the district clerk of Williamson County until the outbreak of the Civil War. He was then appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as the bodyguard of Gen. A. J. Hamilton, provisional governor of Texas. Knight returned to Georgetown after the war was over and began merchandising, continuing in that business for twelve years. The partners ran a dry goods, grocery, drug, and hardware store on the corner site. The Georgetown Watchman for March 23, 1867, mentions their business southeast of the Courthouse; an April 23, 1870 issue advertises paints, "Doty's Family Washing Machines" and saddles, as well as other goods. [14]

Deed records are hazy at this point, but a 1972 Abstract to this property states that the next owner was Edward H. Napier.

Apparently, either during the ownership of the Knights and Eubank or while Napier held the property, an adjoining 60-foot wide lot was acquired on the west side of the property being described. On May 22, 1874, Edward H. Napier sold the corner building and lot, the size now described as 120 by 120 feet, to Mrs. L. J. Warnock and Mary F. Gahagan. Napier dealt in real estate and cattle, and on Dec. 23, 1872, had sold printing presses and other equip­ment to W. K. and Nancy Foster he had used in the publishing of the Williamson County Record and the Burnet Exponent. [15]

On Nov. 13, 1879, T. B. and Mary F. Gahagan deeded the 120-foot square lot with building to H. N. Kirk and H. Lesturgette, and wife, O. L. Kirk bought out Lestur­gette's half of the property on May 17, 1880. [16]

Thomas W. Marrs paid $750 to H. N. Kirk for the quarter of a block on Sept. 24, 1880, valued on the City of Georgetown Tax Rolls for 1880, 1881, and 1883 at $1000.

A photograph made between 1880 and 1883 shows "Street Scene in Georgetown in the Early Days," and T. W. Marrs Dry Goods sign on his building, pictures a one-story wooden one. On May 19, 1881, the Williamson County Sun noted: "Mr. T. W. Marrs is having his store extended back 24 feet. He contemplates laying in a stock of dry goods and enlarging his stock of groceries. Mr. Marrs' business has been growing gradually ever since he established here, and if it continues to increase for the

*T. W. Marrs was in the 16th Texas Infantry during the Civil War; became a grandfather to two Methodist bishops, A. Frank Smith (1889-1962) and W. Angie Smith (1894-1974), brothers, who decided to enter the ministry in First Methodist Church, Georgetown.

In the next few years in the same ratio that it has for the past two, he will be one of the largest general mercantile dealers in town. The Sun hopes he will lay in a large stock of dry goods and groceries and then give it a big advertisement. [17]

Out of his 120-foot frontage, Marrs sold 23 2/3 feet on the northeast corner of block 51 to S. M. Lesesne on June 28, 1883, for $2000.

Six months later, the Williamson County Sun advertised: "We invite our friends and the public generally to call and examine our stock of holiday goods, consisting of albums, Christmas cards, artificial flowers, odor cases, cologne stands, glove and handkerchief boxes, dressing cases, celluloid sets, mirrors, etc." The advertisement was signed Sanders & Lesesne. Two months later, Lesesne borrowed $4000 to finance "improvements" on the lot, and a year later, on Jan. 15, 1885, the Williamson County Sun complimented "Sanders & Lesesne's elegant drug store" with its new commercial sign. From this time, for seventy-six years, the building was occupied by a drug store. For some years prior to entering the drug business, Lesesne had served as deputy county clerk; in 1878 he was elected County Treasurer. He repaid the loan on the lot and "storehouse" in full on Dec. 29, 1885, which was acknowledged in January 1886, and at the same time, he and his wife Jennie empowered W. E. Chapman to sell the property. [18] He moved away from Georgetown and remained away for the rest of his life.

Two men, D. S. Chessher, a local attorney and County Judge, and Dr. G. W.Foster, a physician, purchased the Lesesne building and lot on Nov. 11, 1887, for $5800.

The partners engaged a young pharmacist, William De Kalb Nichols, to run their drug business in their newly acquired store, and called it Nichols Drug Store. William Nichols was born in Montgomery County, Texas, in 1858, attended Southwestern University, Georgetown, from 1875 to 1880; studied pharmacy at Vanderbilt Univer­sity, and in 1882 returned to make his home in Georgetown. He remained in the drug business at that location until Dr. Thomas Barton Stone bought it in December 1892. Nichols died May 25, 1894, following several months of illness of heart disease. [19]

Dr. Stone acquired only the drug business, not the building, and Chessher and Foster continue to hold their investment in the property. On June 14, 1894, Chessher transferred his half of the ownership to Andrew J. Nelson in lieu of payment on a loan Nelson had made to Chessher. Foster continued to hold his part of the property. [20]

Dr. Stone and his family and descendants were closely involved with this business for 69 years. The following news stories describe them:

(Feb. 17, 1928) T. B. Stone, 79, pioneer, former college president, and for 34 years a businessman of Georgetown, retiring Jan. 1, 1927, died at his home at 9:45 Saturday morning.

Dr. Thomas Barton Stone was born on Jan. 6, 1849, in Montgomery Co., Ala. He came with his parents to Chappel Hill, Washington County, Texas, immediately after the Civil War. He was educated at Old Emory and Henry College, Virginia, and received his medical training at Tulane University, New Orleans. He accepted a professorship in Chappel Hill Female College and was later made president of Soule College, Chappel Hill, serving 3 or 4 yours in that office. He then moved with his family to Georgetown in 1893 to enter the drug business here. He con­tinued in the business to Jan. 1, 1928, when he sold his interest . . . to his eldest son and associate in the business for many years, T. E. Stone. The business continues in the same name.

He married Kittie Elliott of Navasota. They had 8 children, 6 of whom survived him: T. E. Stone of Georgetown, Mrs. W. E. Thies of Granger, Norman Stone of Georgetown, Mrs. G. B. Bogart of Dallas, Warren Stone of Bartlesville, Okla.; Barton Stone, San Antonio. Dr. Stone was a member of the First Methodist Church and of the Masonic Lodge.

(May 10, 1940) Thomas Elliott Stone died at St. Louis, Mo., May 4, 1940. . . the son of Thomas Barton Stone and Catherine Elliott Stone.

He was educated in the Georgetown Public Schools and Southwestern University and in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Texas. For the past 47 years he was associated with the drug business. . . . One June 7, 1905, he married Annie Laurie Lee of Caldwell.

(Nov. 20, 1942) Stone's Drug Store celebrates its fiftieth anniversary here. . it has dispensed drugs, prescriptions, and sundries under the direction of the same family for 50 years. The business was established by Dr. T. B. Stone on Dec. 1, 1892. . . in later years was joined by his son, T. Elliott Stone, and on the death of his father Feb. 11, 1928, the business was carried on by the son until his death May 4, 1940. The business was then taken over by the widow, Mrs. T. Elliott Stone,*who continues to operate it on the same high plane of efficiency as had her faithful and efficient husband and his father. [21]

*A daughter of Thomas Elliott and Annie Laurie Stone, Tula Lee Stone, operated the drug store for a number of years after her mother's retirement and death.

On Nov. 1, 1901, Dr. G. W. Foster sold his half interest in the building and lot to Dr. T. B. Stone for $2750. In 1908, Stone granted permission for J. R. Allen to build onto the west wall of the corner property. Owners Stone and Nelson were notified by the City of Georgetown in 1922 that a paving ordinance for streets and alleys had passed and they were assessed $535 for the paving of 8th and Main streets adjoining their property. [22]

On Feb. 8, 1939, heirs of A. J. and C. A. Nelson sold their half of the property to an heir of T. B. Stone, Emmie Lee Oliver, for $3000. Meanwhile, some years earlier, Jan. 8, 1927, Dr. T. B. Stone and his wife Kittie E. Stone, deeded their portion of the property to Annie Laurie Stone for $3000, and between this time and 1961, it had passed through the hands of a number of Stone heirs. One of them was Vivia S. Towles, who on behalf of all the heirs, sold the entire property to Don and Clara Scarbrough for $7000, on Nov. 17, 1961. [23]

Numerous offices have occupied the upstairs.

Advertisements from 1888 to 1900 show some of the tenants as Dr. W. T. Jones, physician and surgeon; Dr. G. W. Foster; Dr. C. C. Black, physician, and surgeon; Stone's Art Studio, "the place to have your Picture made if you want the best, with gallery opposite the standpipe"; and N. M. Wilcox, another longtime Georgetown photographer. One or more of the photographic shops continued to be located upstairs in this building well into the 20th century. After about 1930, Dr. H. W. Cornick and Dr. R. W. Gamble, dentists, and Dr. Dewey H. Cooper, a medical doctor, had offices there. [24]

After purchasing the building in 1961, Scarbrough did repairs, rearranged offices upstairs, 8021/2 Main Street, for the use of the newly-formed Radio Station KGTN.

The upper floor contains seven rooms, used for news, control, and production rooms and offices. Downstairs, the front of the building was altered as previously described for Sam Brady Insurance, who occupied two north rooms until 1968, after which this section was leased for the Drivers License Bureau of the Texas Department of Public Safety until early 1983. Also in 1961, the south end of the building on street level was made into a suite of three rooms, and for about three years. the owners gave the space rent-free to the newly-organized Georgetown Public Library for its operation until a permanent home could be obtained. Other tenants in these south offices (806 Main Street) have been attorneys Joe McMaster and Bill Buckner and dental technician Weldon Whitten. [25]

During the restoration of the building from April to June 1983, one of the three back rooms at 806 Main was rearranged to be included in the front office, at 102 West 8th Street.

This now three-room suite on the north and front of the building is occupied by artist-photographer Deborah Grimsley. The two-room space to the rear is used as an office by Donna Scarbrough Josey, KGTN business manager, with nursery space for her tiny daughter, Grace Ammonet Josey. Her husband, Jack Josey, is the general manager of Radio KGTN. [26]

The KGTN Building is in excellent condition.

It is located in a key position in the Town Square Historic District and is listed on the National Register as a part of that district. Its owners have participated in the current Main Street Project and plan to keep the structure's architectural integrity intact and to maintain 'le building as needed. They hope that it will house primarily retail businesses.