Downtown Round Rock: There IS such a thing
When most of us think of Round Rock, we think of new subdivisions, Dell and, well, new subdivisions. More specifically, subdivisions built since 2000, clustered on either side of I-35, North and Northeast of Austin.
According to the city’s web site (which cited the US Census Bureau), the population of greater Round Rock doubled between 1990 (30,923) and 2000 (61,136) and almost doubled again between 2000 and 2009 (105,412). With that many people flocking to this ever-growing area, it’s easy to focus on the new shopping centers and sprawling subdivisions.
Did you know that Round Rock also has a downtown, just a few streets in either direction, that look a lot like any small town in Texas, with a handful of older buildings mixed in with a handful of newer, public facilities?
The old downtown area is anchored on the South East corner by the intersection of Main Street and Sheppard, a little East of I-35.
Here is what we saw when we pulled into town:
The History of Round Rock
The history of Round Rock, once upon a time named “Brushy” is documented on the city’s web site which is loaded with a very compelling and detailed collection of historical information (with research and source references) about the history of this part of Williamson County.
A brief excerpt:
The Round Rock Historic Commercial District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The district consists of the buildings fronting the 100 and 200 blocks of E. Main Street and the Old Post Office/Masonic Lodge at 107 S. Mays Street.
A fair amount of the information about the city at the turn of the century in 1900 was gathered from old insurance maps, which laid out the city buildings that posed the greatest risk to the insurers.
Because the city’s site is comprehensive in historical detail, instead of re-telling those tales, we decided to share a few modern-day snapshots of the downtown area, with a little bit of a vintage feel to some of them. All of these photographs are from January 2011.
My personal favorite is of the corner of the old J.A. Nelson building. The photograph reminded of us one we saw recently of a corner in New Orleans.
You will see, in the images of downtown Round Rock that follow, that many of these buildings were built in the late 1800s, most with limestone, readily available locally. Many of the facades have been updated through the years, but most are still fairly utilitarian, with just a few architectural details. The old drug store even has a pressed-tin front on the second story, although it’s not easy to discern form the street or in the photograph.
If you are considering moving to Round Rock, or already live in the area, remember to visit downtown and help keep the local merchants and businesses hopping. You don’t need to drive out into the country to get a little small-town flavor!