Lighting the Square Essay Contest

ChristmasLights18b-450This year the student winner of an essay contest will help Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross and Williamson County Judge Dan A. Gattis flip the switch to turn on the lights at the Lighting of the Square on November 27. The annual lighting event is at 5:30 p.m. on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Students in the third, fourth, and fifth grades are invited to write a short essay on the topic, “Why I am proud Georgetown has the greenest Christmas in Texas.” The essay topic recognizes the City of Georgetown’s green energy plans to purchase all of its energy from wind and solar sources by 2017.

Contest rules: Essays are limited to 75 words or less. Essays can be emailed to or delivered to the office of the Williamson County Sun at 707 S. Main Street, on the east side of the Courthouse Square. Essays are due by 5 p.m. on November 11. The essay contest winner will help to turn on the lights on the Square on November 27.

The Lighting of the Square essay contest is sponsored by the City of Georgetown, Williamson County, The Williamson Museum, and the Williamson County Sun.

This year the lights in the trees and on buildings around the Courthouse Square are sponsored by Georgetown Utility Systems. Georgetown is set to be one of the first cities in the U.S. to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy from wind and solar plants in West Texas. Williamson County is contributing to the lighting costs with funds raised from donations.

Collectible Ornament Sale: Southwestern Cullen Building

2015 ornament Cullen webA limited-edition collectible brass Christmas ornament featuring the historic Cullen Building at Southwestern University is now on sale. The cost of the ornament is $20, tax included. The ninth annual ornament sale is a project of the Georgetown Main Street Program.

The Cullen Building was constructed between 1898 and 1900 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Romanesque limestone building at Maple Street and University Avenue is a landmark in Georgetown.

Known over the years as Old Main and the Administration “Ad” Building, the Cullen Building was renovated in the 1970s and again in 2012, and is now home to University administration offices and a number of classrooms. The building was renamed the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building in 1977 after funds from the Cullen Foundation of Houston enabled the university to complete the first major renovation of the building.

Cullen Building ornaments can be purchased at the Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh Street or at the Art Center, 816 S. Main Street. Only 325 of the limited-edition ornaments are available. Ornaments typically sell out each year. Payments by cash, check, or credit are accepted.

All proceeds from the ornament sale fund Main Street projects and Façade Fund Grant Program.

Downtown Low-Down Meeting October 14

Gumbos front-400Come find out about upcoming City projects and event updates at the next quarterly Downtown Low-Down meeting on Wednesday, October 14.

The informal meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. at Roots Bistro, 118 W. Eighth Street. Coffee and light breakfast snacks will be provided. There will be updates from City staff on:

  • Parking lot at MLK, Jr. and Eighth streets: construction update
  • Second Street utility and streets project: construction update
  • Downtown Parking Study
  • Downtown projects for 2016 (including Downtown West)
  • Best of Georgetown, TX
  • Art Center and Library events
  • Historic Resource Survey update
  • Holiday hours campaign
  • Ladies Nite Out on Nov. 19
  • Shop Small Spree on Nov. 29
  • 2015 holiday events
  • Downtown sales tax trends

Also, find out about new businesses in the downtown district that have opened or are under construction.

Finally, the Main Street Advisory Board will take a photo to promote the Shop Small campaign. The photo will be taken at 8:15 a.m. before the meeting. Plus, everyone gets a pirate eye patch for the photo!

If you plan to attend, please RSVP by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 13 to Jackson Daly at (512) 931-7679 or at

Living Uptown in Downtown: Breakfast Bites on Sept. 16

Many of Georgetown’s Victorian-era commercial buildings on the Square included shops and offices on the first floor and apartments on the second floor. While a few second-floor residences remain, a new generation of downtown residences is emerging.

The Breakfast Bites panel Living Uptown in Downtown on September 16 will profile projects that offer residential living in Georgetown’s downtown district.  Breakfast Bites is a quarterly business development event by the Georgetown Main Street Program. A number of downtown residential developers will be on the panel:

Sam Pfiester is a local developer who is planning a new residential town home project on the north side of the downtown area. Pfiester also is a partner in Monument Café and El Monumento, two restaurants in the downtown area. Sam and his wife Rebecca also live in the Old Town area near downtown.

Kent Collins is the developer of the 400 Main Street project, which is a redevelopment project that includes four townhomes and four single-family residences on Main Street on the north side of downtown.

Robert Choi is a partner in Tamiro Plaza, a multi-story commercial development on the north side of downtown that includes offices and two restaurants: Nancy’s Sky Garden and Uptown Social. A new phase of Tamiro Plaza will include residential units.

Justin Bohls is the owner of Union on Eighth, an event center on the east side of downtown in the former Conway Transmission shop. Justin and his wife Katy also live in an historic home in the Old Town area near downtown.

The moderator for the panel is Laurie Brewer, assistant city manager for the City of Georgetown and director of the Downtown and Community Services Division.

The event on Wednesday, September 16 is from 8:30 to 9:50 a.m. in the Friends Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. Breakfast snacks, coffee, and drinks will be provided. Networking starts at 8 a.m.

Attendees should pre-register by contacting Shelly Hargrove, Main Street manager, by 5 p.m. on Monday, September 14 at or (512) 930-2027. Main Street is a program of the City of Georgetown Downtown and Community Services Department.

Vote for the Best of Georgetown, TX in September

Best-of-G'town_wURL-webWhere’s the best place to take kids in Georgetown? Where is the best lunch spot? The best dessert? The best wedding venue?

During the month of September, vote in the online poll for the Best of Georgetown, TX with 42 categories for local businesses, attractions, services, and activities in Georgetown.

Voting starts on September 1 and ends on September 30. Vote online at Each ballot must include at least 20 categories.

The top three winners in each category will be announced on First Friday on November 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Union on Eighth Street at 224 E. Eighth Street. The list of winners will be posted at

Winning businesses receive window decals as well as certificates showing their award and category. In addition, the business name will be listed on the 2015 winners flyer at the Visitors Center and on the website for one year. Winners will have access to the Best of Georgetown 2015 logo for use in their websites and printed material.

The annual Best of Georgetown, TX contest is sponsored by the City of Georgetown Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Downtown Low-Down Meeting July 15

Come find out about upcoming City projects and event updates at the next quarterly Downtown Lowdown meeting on Wednesday, July 15.

The informal meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. at Roots Bistro, 118 W. Eighth Street. Coffee and light breakfast snacks will be provided. There will be updates from City staff on:

  • New parking lot at MLK and Eighth streets
  • Downtown parking study
  • Art Center and Library events
  • Updated historic preservation ordinance and processes
  • National Register Historic District expansions
  • May 2015 Transportation Bond
  • Second Street utility, street, and sidewalk project
  • Sidewalk accessibility ordinance
  • Main Street façade and sign grants
  • Downtown sales tax trends
  • Downtown West plans

Also, find out about new businesses in the downtown district that have opened or are under construction.

If you plan to attend, please RSVP by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14 to Jackson Daly at (512) 931-7679 or at

July 4 Celebration and Fireworks at San Gabriel Park

The 32nd annual Sertoma Club July 4th celebration and fireworks display will be held at San Gabriel Park on Saturday, July 4. The event is sponsored by the Georgetown Sertoma Club service organization with assistance from the City of Georgetown.

Hometown Parade in the Park

A July 4th Hometown Parade in San Gabriel Park begins at 11 a.m. at the low-water crossing near the College Street Bridge and ends at the gazebo. Participants should gather at 10:30 a.m. at the low-water crossing. Kids are encouraged to decorate their wagons or bicycles for the parade. No motorized vehicles or pets. The annual parade is sponsored by the Leadership Georgetown Alumni.


The fireworks display begins at approximately 9:30 p.m. Fireworks will be launched from the McMaster Athletic Fields on N. College Street. Fireworks can be viewed from San Gabriel Park, VFW Park, and other areas in Georgetown. The main entrance to San Gabriel Park is via Chamber Way on N. Austin Avenue.

Entertainment, Food, and Activities

A festival area at San Gabriel Park opens at 11 a.m. with arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, a petting zoo, rides for children and adults, a trackless train, remote-controlled cars, and a nine-hole miniature golf course.

Below is a schedule of events for performances at the gazebo in San Gabriel Park:

  • 11 a.m. Hometown Parade followed by performance with Miss Georgetown and her court
  • 12 p.m. Annie and Kate
  • 1 p.m. Jo Ellyn Lyons
  • 2 p.m. Dance Party
  • 3 p.m. Brett McMinn
  • 4 p.m. Alex Winters
  • 5 p.m. Lucian Nastase Jr. and Anna Lucia Nastase
  • 6 p.m. Xander Ortiz
  • 7 p.m. Roland Waits
  • 8 p.m. Georgetown Fire Department Pipes and Drums
  • 8:45 p.m. Elvis (Mike Elliott)
  • 9:30 p.m. National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance
  • Fireworks

For updates to July 4 events, visit the Georgetown Sertoma Facebook page at


Limited parking in San Gabriel Park includes the parking lots at the Show Barn and the Rodeo Arena. Public parking also is available in the lot at the former Albertsons, accessible via Morrow Street on N. Austin Avenue or Interstate 35. Attendees also are encouraged to park at Georgetown High School and carpool to San Gabriel Park. Limited handicapped parking is available in designated areas in San Gabriel Park.

Both the McMaster Fields parking lot and the Parks and Recreation Administration parking lot at N. College Street and W.L. Walden Drive will be closed due to their proximity to the fireworks fall zone.

College Street and McMaster Fields Closure

Due to the fireworks fall zone, N. College Street will be closed on Saturday from approximately 9 to 11 p.m. between the traffic circle and Holly Street. Parking, standing, or sitting along N. College Street in that segment will not be permitted during this time.

The McMaster Athletic Fields will be closed all day on Saturday, July 4.

Fireworks Prohibited

By City of Georgetown ordinance, fireworks of any kind are not allowed in the city limits of Georgetown or within 5,000 feet of the city limits, unless they are used in a permitted display authorized by the Georgetown Fire Department. This area outside city limits includes, but is not limited to, the neighborhoods of Cedar Hollow, Crystal Knoll, Escalera, Fountainwood, Indian Creek, Logan Ranch Road, Lost Rivers, Oak Crest, Olde Oak Estates, Serenada, Shady Oaks, Turtle Bend, and Woodland Park, and areas along D.B Wood Road.

The discharge of fireworks is prohibited in the city limits or within the 5,000-foot buffer beyond city limits. Violations can lead to fines of up to $2,000 per firework. To view a map showing the 5,000-foot boundary, go to

Historic District Expansions Proposed at Meeting June 15

Creation of a new Forest Street Historic District and expansion of the existing Williamson County Courthouse Historic District are two recommendations of a report on the National Register Historic Districts in Georgetown. Highlights of the report will be presented in a public meeting on Monday, June 15, at 5:30 p.m. at the Georgetown Communication and Technology Building, 510 W. Ninth Street.

The City project to assess and update the National Register Historic Districts began in October. One goal of the project is to ensure that as many property owners as possible would be eligible for the new State of Texas tax credits for historic preservation. Previous meetings included a kick-off public meeting to introduce the project last year on November 5 and a workshop on March 17 to provide detailed information about the new tax credit program.

The City of Georgetown hired historic preservation consultant Steph McDougal, of McDoux Preservation, a Houston-area firm, to review the four historic districts that were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s and 1980s. McDougal determined that the Williamson County Courthouse Historic District boundaries could be expanded to include buildings constructed in the 1935 to 1965 period known as the “highway era.”

She also has recommended the creation of a new historic district in the Forest Street area, south of downtown. That potential new district was first identified in the 2007 survey of historic resources conducted by Hardy-Heck-Moore, an Austin consulting firm. The 2007 survey also recommended the creation of the Olive Street Historic District, which was listed on the National Register in 2013.

McDougal and City Historic Planner Matt Synatschk will be on hand to explain the project, findings, recommendations, and next steps. They will answer questions and have handouts about the proposals.

The new State of Texas franchise tax credit for historic preservation became available in January 2015. The state tax incentive allows property owners to receive a tax credit worth 25 percent of the qualifying expenses associated with rehabilitating a historic building.

In the past, many Georgetown property owners have taken advantage of the federal historic tax credit for historic preservation, which equals up to 20 percent of qualifying project expenses. In order to qualify for the federal program and the new state program, properties must be individually listed on the National Register or classified as “contributing” to a national register historic district.

When the four Georgetown historic districts were listed on the National Register in the 1970s and 1980s, many buildings were either excluded from the district or listed as non-contributing because they were not yet 50 years old. Today, that period can be extended by 30 to 40 years to 1965, potentially enabling many more Georgetown property owners to take advantage of the tax credits.

This project is being funded in part through a certified local government grant from the National Park Service, U. S. Department of the Interior, as administered by the Texas Historical Commission.

For more information about the City of Georgetown’s historic preservation programs or the current National Register historic districts, visit or contact Matt Synatschk at (512) 930-3581 or

Georgetown Main Street Program Recognized

The Georgetown Main Street Program was recently recognized with national accreditation by the National Main Street Center. The Georgetown Main Street Program is accredited by meeting performance benchmarks in planning, partnerships, staffing, volunteer effort, preservation ethic, training, and program assessment through reporting.

Georgetown Main Street Program activities in 2014 include $28,411 in façade and sign reimbursement grants to seven downtown businesses, Ladies Nite Out, the Georgetown Swirl wine and food event, the Light Up the Square holiday lighting campaign, and the annual collectible ornament sale.

Each year, the National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, announces the list of accredited Main Street programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to historic preservation and community revitalization through the Main Street Four Point Approach of organization, design, promotion and economic restructuring—all within the context of historic preservation.

main st board 2015-b1000

Pictured in the photo are (left to right) Shelly Hargrove, Georgetown Main Street Program manager, and Main Street Advisory Board members Vicki Jackimiec, Jim Wilson, David Kellerman, JJ Parker, and Cindy Harrington. (Click on photo for larger version.)

For more information about the Georgetown Main Street Program, go to For more information on the Texas Historical Commission’s Main Street program, visit

Established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center helps communities of all sizes revitalize their older and historic commercial districts.

Marking History on the Square: Postponed

Updated, May 15: The Marking History walking tour and the Historic Marker Rehabilitation Workshop that were scheduled for tomorrow have been postponed due to the forecast for rain. The City and The Williamson Museum will publicize the new date when the events are re-scheduled.
Local history experts in period costumes will tell stories from Georgetown’s past in an event on Georgetown’s Courthouse Square on May 16. The self-guided walking tour called Marking History on Saturday, May 16 is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The event is one of several Preservation Month activities in May.

The tour is sponsored by The Williamson Museum in partnership with the Georgetown Main Street Program and the Georgetown Heritage Society. The Marking History walking tour is free and open to the public.

During the self-guided tour, historical markers around the Square will come to life with interpreters in period costumes telling the stories of the buildings and the people who built them. From the Grace Heritage Center and the old fire station on the southeast side of the Square to the Lockett Building on the northwest corner—and at several historical markers in between—visitors will be entertained with the tales of Georgetown’s past. To start the Marking History tour, go to the Williamson Museum at 716 S. Austin Avenue on the Square to pick up a map.

Marker Rehab Workshop: On the morning of May 16, there will be an historic marker rehabilitation workshop at from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The workshop starts at 9 a.m. on the south steps of the Williamson County Courthouse, 710 S. Main Street. The group will divide into teams and participants will learn the rehabilitation techniques by working on historic markers around the Square. The workshop is sponsored by the City’s Historic Preservation office, the Texas Historical Commission, The Williamson Museum, and the Williamson County Historical Commission.

Art Exhibition: Artworks from the Paint Out on Church Street will be on display on May 16 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Grace Heritage Center, 811 S. Main Street. Works by approximately 20 artists featuring scenes along Church Street will be displayed. The pieces were painted during the Paint Out on Church Street event that was held on May 2 and sponsored by The Georgetown Art Center and the Georgetown Heritage Society. The exhibit will be on display at Grace Heritage Center May 11 through May 16. The show will be open Monday through Friday 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.