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Granbury, Texas

Restoration

Photo: Famous Courthouse Clock

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Grandbury Restoration

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Granbury's now historic town square first came to life in 1871; and on the eve of its 100th year, it resurrected thanks to the city's much-admired historic preservation movement.

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The movement began with the restoration of the Hood County Courthouse, which was built in 1891 and brought back to life in 1969. The three-story courthouse anchors the town square, and its mammoth three-tiered clock tower directs travelers as they head toward Granbury in search of yesteryear.

Community leaders actually pondered removing the courthouse clock tower, but Mrs. A.B. Crawford, Granbury's respected newspaper publisher, ultimately convinced them otherwise, and the town's preservation movement gained momentum.

Mary Lou Watkins, a descendant of the Nutt brothers (two of Granbury's founding fathers), also proved to be a principal player in the town's preservation movement. She restored the Nutt family's old home during the late 1960s, and her cousin, Joe Nutt, followed suit when he restored the town square's Nutt House building. The building reopened as a restaurant whose success inspired other proprietors to restore their dilapidated buildings around the square.

Nutt next turned his attention to the Granbury Opera House, which was built in 1886. With the overwhelming support of the community, Nutt restored the old theater in the early 1970s; and in 1972, the City of Granbury passed an ordinance establishing the town square as an historic district whose buildings were to be forever protected.

Renowned Texas architect O'Neil Ford was so impressed by Granbury's restoration efforts that he urged Mary Lou Watkins to nominate the entire town square for inclusion in the National Register of Historical Places. Her efforts to that end met with success; and in 1974, the "Granbury Courthouse Square" became the first town square in Texas to be listed in the National Register.

Two years later, the Texas Historical Commission again recognized Granbury's preservation movement by awarding its citizens the Ruth Lester Award for Meritorious Service in Historic Preservation.

The town's biggest honor, though, may lie in the fact that the National Trust for Historic Preservation has modeled its Main Street Program after Granbury's restoration efforts. The program provides grants for historical preservation nationwide.

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