Historical Marker Dedication for the Farmers State Bank Building Georgetown, Texas
February 24, 2007
1:00 P. M.
Welcome – Chris Dyer
Director, Williamson County Historical Museum
Opening Comments – Bob Brinkman
Chair, Williamson County Historical Commission
Pledges to American & Texas Flags –
Scout Troop 151
Pledge of allegiance to the Texas flag: “Honor the Texas Flag;
I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one and indivisible.”
“Texas Our Texas” – Ford Elementary 4th Grade
Introduction of Dignitaries & Guests – Bob Brinkman
A Word from the Congressman – U.S. Representative
John Carter, 31st District of Texas
Farmers State Bank History – George Meyer
Vice Chair, Williamson County Historical Commission
Further Introductions & Instructions – Bob Brinkman
Marker Unveiling –Ed M. Lansford
Secretary, Williamson County Historical Museum
Farmers State Bank Building Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas
On March 13, 1848, the Texas Legislature created Williamson County from the western portion of Milam County. The Legislature also appointed long-time residents of the new county area as commissioners to locate a seat of government for the newly formed entity. Most of these men had petitioned the Legislature to form a new county. They were John Berry, Sr., William Dalrymple, J. M. Harrell, C. Cowan, Washington Anderson, and J. 0. Rice. (1)
In May 1848, these men met under the shade of a great oak tree south of the junction of the two forks of the San Gabriel River.
As they were deliberating, they were joined by George Washington Glasscock, Sr. Upon learning the purpose of the meeting, Glasscock proposed that the county seat should be where they were meeting. The land under their feet belonged to Thomas Huling. Huling had bought the land from Clement Stubblefield on November 2, 1839. (2) Stubblefield had acquired 1476 acres, 1/3 of a league, as his headright. Huling had made Glasscock his agent, and both men would benefit financially if the county seat was in the middle of their holdings. (3) One really can't believe that Glasscock just happened by accident. Supposedly, Glasscock made a proposition to the commissioners that if they accepted the site as the county seat and named it Georgetown, that Glasscock and Huling would donate 173 acres for the new county seat. The San Gabriel River ends at that point, by making a line due west and another due east from the oak tree, the river would more or less form the northern and western legs of the town boundaries. The site where the tree stood is at the corner of Church and Ninth streets in present-day Georgetown. Glasscock was asked to survey the townsite to establish plots. David Cowan and Mathias Wilbarger, both surveyors, were given the task of marking off the plots into lots.
There were no structures on the townsite.
Lots were to be sold to raise funds to build public buildings, such as a courthouse. The first courthouse was a 16' x 16' log structure on the public square on the Main Street side. The town was laid out in a grid pattern with an open public square or courthouse square surrounded by business lots. Lots were sold over a period of years rather than all at once in an auction. From the beginning, Glasscock and Huling looked after their own interests. A Glasscock Addition was established on the eastern side of town and lots were sold there as early as 1850. Glasscock had Huling's power of attorney and sold the property under the Glasscock name for Huling. (4)
We were not able to trace back to the point where and when the Bank lot was first purchased from the county, but we did find a sale in the same block.
On March 31, 1851, Samuel Alexander purchased Lot 5 on the old map, and Block 41, Lot 4 on the new map. The David Love store has been on that lot for over 125 years. The Bank's location was Block 5, north half of Lot 1 on the old map, and Block 41, north half of Lot 8 on the new map. The change from old to new maps occurred sometime in the 1850s, probably 1851.
On November 14, 1871, J. H. Turner bought half-interest in the Bank lot for $13.40 in gold.5 On January 16, 1872, S. B. Makemson bought a half-interest in the property from E. H. Napier for $86.25 in gold.6 On February 11, 1875, J. H. Turner and S. B. Makemson sold their half-interests to A. T. Glasscock for the sum of $400. (7)
Sometime after Turner bought the property in 1875 and before 1882, he erected a 20 foot wide by 50-foot deep structure facing on Bushy Street (Austin Avenue).
The lot is 30 by 125 feet, so there was a ten-foot vacant strip on the north side of the building, and 75 feet remaining to the back property line. The Sanborn map of 1885 shows four small buildings on the back of the lot. The map also shows that the building was being used as a saloon and billiard hall.
The U. S. Census reports of 1850, 1860, and 1870 show slow growth in population in Williamson County.
The economy depended mostly on subsistence agriculture. Development was hampered by the Civil War and the Reconstruction period that followed. Georgetown and Round Rock had reputations of being dangerous places to travel through. Outlaws roamed the countryside. Sam Bass and John Wesley Hardin were two of the most famous troublemakers. According to the Census of 1870, there were 320 persons living in this frontier town. The doldrums would soon be overdue to three things. First, the North developed a taste for beef and Texas had thousands of Longhorn cattle that had multiplied on the free-range during the Civil War. Fortunes could be made by driving these cattle to railheads in states such as Kansas. One of the most famous cattle trails was the Chisholm Trail. A branch of this trail went right through Georgetown up Brushy Street. This must-have brought thirsty cowboys to Turner's saloon. Several men in the Georgetown area organized trail drives and brought back a bonanza of cash. Secondly, the arrival of the railroad in 1878 had a profound and lasting impact. The Georgetown Tap Railroad was financed by local funds. It built a roadbed to Round Rock to connect with the International and Great Northern Railroad. This provided a means for products to be shipped to larger markets. Also, imported goods could be obtained more easily. Businesses such as a furniture factory were built along the railroad right-of-way. The third factor that spurred economic growth was the increased production of cotton. Advances in farming implements and seed greatly increased the potential yield per acre. Georgetown and other towns in Williamson County became cotton-producing centers.
When limestone became widely available as a building material, the lot to the south of Turner's was developed by J. H. Booth. Booth built a 35' by 125' two-story stone structure that housed a mercantile business on the first floor. They sold dry goods, hats, boots, saddles, and notions. The second floor housed the offices and meeting hall of the International Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.). The second floor was reached by an iron stairway on the southeast side of the building. (8)
In 1889 Turner's neighbor to the north built a 26' by 110' two-story limestone structure.
According to the 1889 Sanborn map, the store sold general merchandise. The lot was 120' deep, which resulted in a ten-foot alley. Turner's property still had the bar building in July 1889, but the map indicated that the lot was to be built out and have a metal roof. Turner took advantage of his neighbor's side, stone walls, and fit roof coffers into them at the two-story level. The building on the south was higher than the building to the north by about five feet. There are openings in the south wall that allow rainwater to flow onto the bank building's roof, which has caused flooding into the bank building when the drain pipes and the roof have failed. Turner enclosed the front and rear of the building with rubble stone. The back wall is even with the northern neighbor, which left a ten-foot alley.
The 1890 Sanborn map shows an interior wall dividing the building down the middle with a barbershop in the north half and a restaurant in the south half.
The restaurant's kitchen was located in the southwest corner of the alley area. In April 1888, Turner put a lien on his property as security for a $250 debt owed to C. H. Booth. In the legal description, it is mentioned that the saloon property was run by a person named Heussey. 9 It seems that the enlarging of the building squeezed out Heussey.
Georgetown and Williamson County were growing rapidly during the 1870s and 80s.
The lots around the square were filling in with limestone housed businesses. The town lots were being occupied by grander houses encircled by white picket fences. A new Second Empire style courthouse replaced the county's third courthouse that was fast deteriorating. Architects Jasper Newton Preston and Frederick Ruffini of Austin drew up the plans and the firm of John Didelot finished construction in less than a year. The county commissioners accepted the building on September 2, 1878. Of equal significance to the local economy and culture was the establishment of a Methodist-sponsored university in 1873. Southwestern University's Ladies Annex built-in 1878 also was done in the Second Empire style with the usual Mansard roof. (10)
The jail was built on the northeast corner of the courthouse square.
A public privy stood on the lawn. In 1872 the commissioner's court ruled that the privy must not be locked, but be kept open for use, "anyone desiring exclusive privileges" must build one at his own expense. A permit was issued to A. S. Fisher in November 1872, and J. H.
Turner put up a tent there in 1889.
Privies continued in use on the grounds until February 1894 when a sewage system was installed. Hitching posts and sidewalks were installed around the square in 1881. (11)
On May 26, 1902, J. H. Turner sold his property to A. S. Fisher for the sum of $3,340. (12) Fisher had been in Georgetown since 1871. Fisher was a lawyer in Georgetown in the offices of Fisher and Towns. As a Captain, he led a unit of men from Georgetown during the Spanish-American War. In 1901 he associated himself with Governor James Hogg and others in the Spindletop Oil Field. Judge Fisher had offices in Fort Worth, Houston, and Shreveport, which he visited on his circuits to look after his oil interests. (13) On February 20, 1915, Governor James Ferguson appointed him as a district judge for Williamson and Travis counties.
On November 1, 1902, Thomas P. Hughes purchased the property from A. S. Fisher for $6,000.
Hughes assumed the two notes that J. H. Turner held when he sold the property to Fisher in May of 1902. Hughes gave Fisher the balance of $2,660 in cash. Thomas Proctor Hughes was a well-known attorney who had come to Georgetown in 1851. He sided with Governor Sam Houston against secession. Hughes was a delegate to the Secession Convention early in 1861 and cast his vote against secession. (14) On October 10, 1907, T. P. Hughes sold the property to S. E. Heard for the sum of $5,500. (15)
Near the turn of the century, several banks had been organized in Georgetown.
One of these was a private bank, the Merchants and Farmers Bank, established in 1898. When established, the bank conducted business from the Moses Steele building at 800 Brushy Street. In 1905 the bank was one of the first three banks to receive a state charter. The business was then incorporated as the Farmers State Bank. The first stockholders' meeting was held on August 24, 1905. The same men were elected to the board: A. A. Booty, president, Jno. L. Booty, vice-president, W. L. Price, cashier, J. E. Humble, W. L. Mann, A. A. Booty, R. F. Young, Henry Lundblad, C. C. Cody, and W. L. Price, directors. The salary of the president was fixed at $125 per month for the remainder of the year. The cashier was to receive $100, and the bookkeeper received $80 per month. (16)
According to the minutes of the Board of Directors of the Farmers State Bank, November 4, 1909, a discussion was held concerning moving the bank's place of business to the Heard building in the next block north on Brushy Street. (17) On December 30, 1909, S. A. Heard sold the north half of lot 8, a new map, to the Farmers State Bank for $6,000. (18)
An interesting side note is that the Texaco Oil Company was started by Georgetown men.
It had its beginning when R. E. Brooks and others formed the Texas Fuel Company in 1901. In 1902 Texas Fuel Company became the Texas Company. A. A. Booty, president of Fanners State Bank, was one of the original organizers. R. E. Brooks graduated from Southwestern University in 1883 and received his M. A. there in 1884. He studied law in the offices of Fisher and Towns and was admitted to the bar in 1885. He married Fannie Booty in Georgetown in 1989. Brooks practiced law in the county until 1895 when he was appointed district judge of Travis and Williamson counties. He resigned from his post to enter the oil business in 1901. (19)
In May 1910 the officers of the bank were instructed to make and enter into a contract with W. C. Whitney to erect a bank building, not to exceed $9,200. J. W. Muller Manufacturing Company of Atlanta, Georgia, was chosen to supply furniture and fixtures. The front of the structure was to be removed, and be replaced by a more dignified one. The style chosen was Neoclassical, which befit the dignified nature of the new bank building. In 1909 Georgetown voters approved a $120,000 bond issue to build a new courthouse. The style was to be Neoclassical similar to the bank's style of architecture. The cornerstone was laid on October 6, 1910. Architects were Page and Page of Austin. The general contractor was W. C. Whitney of Beaumont.
Gregory Free of Gregory Free and Associates, Austin, gave an architectural description of the front of the building as it looked in 1997.
Since the front of the bank building had changed very little since being built in 1912, the description is valid. The missing grates that are mentioned were restored to the building in 2003.
As in its prototypes, the Farmers State Bank features two colossal, fluted Composite columns recessed between wide piers. In this instance, the "porch" is reduced to a shallow reveal, with the solid wall mass continuing behind the columns in the same plane as the entrance door. The piers are pierced with tall windows framed with a crossette architrave that springs from a heavy base and is surmounted by a crested shield. Each 1/1 double-hung window unit is divided horizontally by a transom bar and a solid panel below. Finishing the tops of the piers is a horizontal reeded band with a central modified triglyph. Held between the columns is the main entrance, the focus of the composition, with a wide single lite [sic] door flanked by sidelights and capped by a low broken-arched pediment applied to the door head. Above this, the rhythm of the door and sidelights is repeated with windows and carried to a splayed lintel with a central keystone. This arrangement makes for a monumental entrance, which originally flooded the tall volume of the interior space with light. Painted sheet metal is used for the door pediment and to cap the transom bars and related features. Originally, all window openings on the facade were covered by hinged iron grates wrought and welded in a classically geometric design. Some of these grates are still on the premises, though not in place. Otherwise, all window and door frames and trim are painted pine. The whole is capped by a [sic] denticulated entablature engraved with "THE FARMERS STATE BANK," and a low modillioned pediment applied to a solid, slightly stepped parapet. The tympanum is enriched by a central blind lunette flanked by garlands of foliage.
It appears that the original two-story limestone building was gutted, with only the rubble walls on the north, south, and west remaining.
The roof was re-framed with trusses at that time to allow for the series skylights [sic] to be installed down the center of the space. This created the great banking room still remembered by many, and which can be viewed, if in segments, by ascending to the added second floor.
One assumes that the earlier building's wood floors were also removed at that time and replaced with the modem concrete floor still present.
In 1910 the mosaic tile floors were installed, areas which [sic] are still exposed, and most of which still exist in some form below the current carpeting. As attested by the early interior photograph of the bank, and also later primary accounts, the bank's interior was a splendid place. Five large skylights added soft illumination to that provided by the large front windows. The main banking room ceiling was coffered, framing the skylights and dividing the interior into three equal bays laterally and six bays of varying lengths longitudinally — the spacing affected by the large vault, a full-height feature on the south side of the space.
The coffer beams themselves are encased in a molded plaster cornice in a composition of egg and dart molding, consoles, and swags. At the sidewalls, each coffer beam was originally supported visually by a large console. The skylights were configured in two parts — the gable-roofed outer glazing, and the rectangular glazed panels in the same plane as the ceilings. Two of the former sets of panels can still be viewed from below, the others having been covered and/or removed.
Originally the floor throughout the banking room and ancillary spaces consisted of a field of 1" white hexagonal bisque tiles, with a dark brick red snowflake motif set in a drop pattern.
The border is a classical Greek key pattern in smaller red and white square tiles. As mentioned previously, the majority of this floor remains, though in poor condition in places, and covered by a glued-down commercial carpet.
The walls, plastered to the ceiling, were originally covered in a white marble wainscot trimmed at the bottom with a wide black marble base and at the top with a simple white marble cap.
Much of the wainscot remains intact, with detached pieces stored elsewhere in the building. The original interior color, which will be discussed later, appears to have been a deep gold/ochre tone, which, along with the black, white, brick red, and dark oak of the original furnishings and wood trim, would have produced quite a rich and dignified effect.
Since the building remained in use until the 1960s, many individuals remember the building as it appeared in its original condition.
It was not until the mid-1970s when the building was used as county offices that the banking room was floored over to create a records storage mezzanine. (20)
In August 1961, Tom Joseph purchased the controlling stock of the Farmers State Bank from longtime president A. A. Allen.
Mr. Allen remained president while Tom Joseph was the owner. Tom Joseph also owned the Citizens Plaza Shopping Center and other Georgetown properties. The bank's name was changed to the Citizens State Bank. This bank closed the old building on June 9, 1962, and moved to 900 South Austin Avenue. They opened at that location on June 23, 1962. The Citizens State Bank sold the Farmers State Bank building to the Citizens Plaza Development Corporation in November 1962 for $4,450. The Citizens Plaza Development Corporation sold the building in February 1963 to Ben Newman for $5,000. Newman owned a clothing store next door to the north. (21)
Williamson County purchased the Farmers State Bank building from Newman in January 1967 for $6,500.
The building had remained empty since the bank moved out in June 1962. Beginning in 1967, the building housed offices of the Williamson County Superintendent and the Williamson and Burnet Opportunities, Inc. In February 1970 a stairway, partition, and ceiling were added in the rear of the structure to provide storage for county records. Late in 1975, the county commissioner’s court-ordered more renovation of the interior. The false ceiling was extended to the front of the building, and more office partitions were added. On February 1, 1976, then-current tenants were replaced by the Williamson County Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service of the U. S. Department of Agriculture. In 1994 this agency moved to new quarters. Shortly afterward, the commissioner's court designated the use of the building for the Williamson County Historical Commission to hold its meetings and store its records. On July 18, 1995, the county commissioner’s court passed agenda item 23, authorizing the county attorney to draw up a contract with the historical commission to use the Fanners State Bank building for fifty years. The motion carried 5-0, but the contract was not formalized. A letter of agreement between Williamson County and the Museum was signed on January 2, 2002, for a fifty-year period.
The Williamson County Historical Commission established a nonprofit museum corporation with the responsibility of raising funds to help in the renovation of the building.
Members of this museum board applied to several granting agencies but were not successful. Large foundations did not want to grant funds to be used in the renovation of a government-owned building. Friends of the museum who had influence with the county government used their good offices to gain county support. Also, museum board members were urged to write letters of support and find other good citizens to write letters. The campaign was successful, and county funds were forthcoming to pay for the needed renovation.
The renovation was to be done in two phases.
Phase I was to stabilize the building, and Phase II was to finish out the structure for use as the county museum. The historical commission hired Gregory Free of Free and Associates, Austin, to evaluate the structure, and make suggestions for how the building could be fitted out as a museum. Free submitted this report in October 1997. The county commissioners paid for the study. David Voelter of Voelter and Associates, Georgetown, contributed his time as an architectural consultant. The cost of Phase I was $149,000.
Before work could start on Phase II, an archeological study had to be done.
Sean Nash of the Archaeological and Cultural Sciences Group, Austin, conducted the investigation. Most of the artifacts uncovered were from the time when there was a saloon on the property. The front portion of the building was covered by the tile-cement floor, so the test pits had to be sunk in the rear portion of the building that had been covered by the wooden free-floating floor. This would have been the dump area for the saloon. (22)
Phase II restoration of the Farmers State Bank Building was done by A. T. C., Contractors, Georgetown, Nathan Roppalo was on the onsite foreman and his brother James Roppalo handled office details, schedules, subcontractors, materials, etc. This firm restored the Palace Theater in Georgetown and many other structures in the area. Weekly, the museum building committee met with the contractors on site. David Voelter, Voelter, and Associates, Inc., Georgetown, was the architect.
The front exterior of the bank building was cleaned and repointed where needed.
The rubblestone wall in the back had extensive repointing. The five skylights were reopened and fitted with lights. The ceiling tiles were removed and the ceiling was painted. The molded plaster coffer beams were restored. All plaster elements in the ceiling were restored. Efforts were made to try to restore the interior to suggest a bank. The tile floor and the marble wainscot were restored using salvaged and new materials. The roof was reworked so that the water from the neighboring building flowed to the rear of the building. This took a great deal of pressure on the museum's gutters. The cost of Phase II was $530,000. On December 5, 2003, the museum held its grand opening.
A second floor was added to the rear of the two bank vaults.
An elevator was added at the rear of the building. It is in the same area where the kitchen was for the restaurant in the early 1890s, and where the lean-to furnace room was during the banking days and after. This area is outside the building in the ten-foot alleyway.
ODE TO THE OLD FARMERS STATE BANK BUILDING
Hood Stately old building, praise to thee
We will restore you faithfully
Return you to your former pride
With all the strength we can provide Palacious ceilings, way above
Will be restored with work and love Your long set tiles, ornately laid
We'll clean again, be not afraid Our treasures stored within your vault
With fireproof walls that stand assault When all this ghastly work is done
With walls all clean, the battle won We will create a great museum
We'll hang and move and nail and trim Until we'll have our history
Where it will be no mystery
We will show you an interlude
Of our worker's fortitude
Come to the door and step inside
On ornate tiles cleaned up with pride See marble walls where tellers sat
With high necked shirts and wide cravat See honored displays on each set
Of history, you won't forget
War things, peace things, honor things
Books, diaries, and coverings
Then Grand Old Building you will praise
When lights are on and all ablaze.
Hazel Hood and her husband James were members of the Williamson County Historical Commission and the Williamson County Museum board of directors. Before the renovation, they devoted many hours to keeping the building open. A plaque hangs in the museum in their memory.
History compiled by George Meyer and Bob Brinkman, Williamson County Historical
Commission, December 23, 2005.
Barkley, Mary Starr. A History of Central Texas. Austin: Austin Printing Company, 1970.
Free, Gregory, Gregory Free, and Associates. Farmers State Bank: an Investment in Williamson County History, Structural Report. Austin, 1997.
Gard, Wayne. The Chisholm Trail. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1954. Georgetown Bicentennial Commission Heritage Committee. "Historical Sites of Williamson County, Texas," 1976.
Georgetown Heritage Society. Exploring Historic Georgetown. Georgetown, 1987. History of Texas with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1893.
Jones, Ralph Wood. Southwestern University, 1840-1961. Austin: Jenkins Publishing
The company, San Felipe Press, 1973.
Leffler, John J. "Williamson County 1848-1998, Williamson County Sesquicentennial," Austin American-Statesman, September 27, 1998.
Leffler, John J. Williamson County: An Illustrated History. San Antonio: Historical Publishing Network, 2000.
Makemson, W. K. Historical Sketch of First Settlement and Organization of Williamson County. Georgetown: Sun Printing, 1904.
Nash, Sean, RPA, and Gregory Staples. Archaeological Survey and Testing of 41WM1095, The Fanners State Bank Building, City of Georgetown, Williamson County, Texas. Austin: Archaeological and Cultural Science Group, 2004.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Georgetown, Texas, 1885, 1889, 1894, 1900, 1905, 1916, 1924-40.
Scarbrough, Clara. Land of Good Water: Williamson County, Texas, History. Georgetown: Williamson County Sun Printing, 1973.
Schrank, John E. "Farmers State Bank." Typed manuscript, 1980. Copy in Williamson County Historical Commission files.
Utley, Dan K. Sentimental Journey: A Guide to Preserving the Architectural Heritage of Georgetown, Texas. Georgetown: Georgetown Heritage Society, 1988.
Williamson County commissioners court records, deed records, mechanics liens records, and property tax records. County clerk's office, Williamson County courthouse, Georgetown, Texas.
- Makemson. (14)
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 1, pp. 20-22. Clement Stubblefield Survey, plat map 31218.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 1, pp. 97, 194, 195, 295.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 1, p. 295.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 13, p. 378.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 13, p. 485.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 15, pp. 776-777, Vol. 16, p. 672.
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, Georgetown, Texas, 1885, 1889.
- Deeds of Trust of Williamson County, Texas, Vol. 2, p. 188.
- Utley 20
- Scarbrough 228, 229.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, vol. 102, p. 339.
- Fisher papers.
- Utley 17.
- Deed Records of Williamson County, Texas, vol. 120, p. 265.
- A. A. Booty, president, The First Stockholders of the Farmers State Bank, original corporate records of First Texas Bank, Georgetown, Texas, August 25, 1905, p. 25.
- A. A. Booty, president, Records of Minutes, Board of Directors, Farmers State Bank, original corporate records of First State Bank, Georgetown, Texas, November 4, 1909, p. 86.
- Deed records of Williamson County, Texas, vol. 135, p. 207.
- Scarbrough 364.
- "The Farmer's State Bank: An Architectural Description," pp. 10-11.
- Deed Records of Williamson County, Texas, vol. 456, p. 26, vol. 457, p. 479, vol. 493, pp. 108-109.
- Nash, October 2004.