GEORGETOWN, Texas — Texas courthouses are known for their beautiful architecture, but the 1911 Williamson County courthouse is considered by many as the most beautiful.
Visible for miles around, this imposing neoclassical building is the center of a charming and thriving business district.
And this courthouse packs historic significance as the site of the 1923 Ku Klux Klan Trials.
That’s when District Attorney Dan Moody tried and convicted Klan members for the first time ever weakening their political influence. That led to Moody’s election to state office—making him the youngest state attorney general and then governor in Texas.
But as you stroll by the courthouse, you soon see why Georgetown's square is called the most beautiful in the state.
Kim McAuliffe is the Downtown Development Manager for the City of Georgetown. She says they have some of the best examples of Victorian architecture in Texas.
“We have messier brother’s storefronts and a lot of beautiful, beautiful buildings that help make us the most beautiful town square in Texas," said McAuliffe. "You'll see some of those areas that have been restored through the facade grant program and also through a lot of our property owners’ reinvestments in our downtown. But there's really all varieties of different architecture that is very unique and very iconic for Georgetown.”
Some 40 retail shops sell everything from toys and ice cream to a store specializing in award-winning hot sauces and tacos.
And in Georgetown, you can’t miss poppies adorning everything from street signs to storefronts.
Tourism Manager Cari Miller says the state legislature designated Georgetown the red poppy capital of Texas in 1990.
“Back during World War I, a soldier actually sent some poppy seeds home to his mother," Miller said. "She planted them. They came up and over the years, they just spread all over town, and every spring they come back.”
And that led to Georgetown's poppy festival. The free, three-day event is held the last full weekend in April bringing some 75,000 people to town.
“We actually haven't had the festival since 2019 so we're super excited to get to be back and celebrate Georgetown," Miller said. "And celebrate the history of the red poppy festival and just get everybody to come down and have a great time.”
In Georgetown, there’s art just about everywhere you look. Arts and Culture Coordinator Amanda Still says their vibrant arts district features public art displays and the art center in the historic firehouse No. 1.
“This building was originally a fire station and also a jail," Still said. "And then it was converted in 2013 to the Georgetown art center. And it is a city building. And the city contracts with Georgetown artworks, a nonprofit to manage the building as an art center for art exhibits and art classes and workshops.”
All this sightseeing and shopping works up an appetite. So, we made a stop for brunch at the iconic Monument Café with its 1940’s diner vibe.
“Our secret of being a small, little sleepy town is definitely out,” Monument Cafe Manager David Schuler said.
He takes pride in their food and the staff members who prepare and serve it from their scratch kitchen.
“We don't buy anything pre-made," Schuler said. "We don't have a microwave. We have a lot of hardworking people that prepare food for us every day. We like to feel the music, the interior, how the staff is dressed, things like that, to try to make it very inviting and welcoming to all of our guests.”
All this great food has me refueled and ready for more shopping at the historic Evans building—now home to The Escape Fine Crafts & Gifts.
It features the work of more than 300 artisans and craftsmen from all over the country. In all, Georgetown is a great little getaway.
Here you'll find the perfect mix of history, art, and wonderful places to eat and shop. What more could you ask for?
And mark your calendars for the 2022 Red Poppy Festival in Georgetown on Friday, April 22-24.