I have a fondness for small Texas Towns. They come in many varieties. There are old ones that haven’t changed much since they were incorporated like Round Rock, Jefferson, and Gruene. There are modernized ones where you have to search for history like Frederickburg, Nacogdoches, and Bryan. There are quirky ones with lots of character like Marfa, Alpine, and Bandera. There are totally up-to-date ones without much real history in evidence like Port Aransas, Corsicana, and College Station. Some I don’t like much at all like Ennis, Kingsville, and Wichita Falls. I do like historic Bastop, Kilgore, and Brenham. All have seen better days yet feel nostalgic. And Ruth & I established a new category this year–Texas towns close enough to a big city to be threatened by incorporation but still with definite character, like Granbury.
Granbury is almost a suburb of For Worth now, but its attempt to preserve its historic core is admirable. Granbury’s courthouse square is still charming and the first to be added entirely to the National Register of Historic Places. Its 1886 grand Italianate opera house has recently been redone. Ruth and I tried but failed to get into it during our 2016 visit and plan to return next year with an appointment or tickets to a performance. Granbury’s town square is surrounded by restaurants, antique stores, shops, art galleries, and coffee houses like fine Paradise Bistro. The town has museums and a restored railroad station with short off-season hours, a drive-in theater that’s been around since 1952, and a real history.
Granbury is a new kind of urban area called a micropolis–not exactly a suburb, not exactly a town known for its old housing stock, etc. The Brazos River, Texas’ longest, used to flow naturally through it but has been dammed and is now a thirty-mile-long lake with a shoreline that’s more resort-and-gated-community-like than natural. Granbury has a shopping strip, Highway 377, containing big-and-little-box stores with familiar names. It’s like any commercial complex in any fairly large American town and the reason why trips to Fort Worth have become less frequent.
In 1969 locals began realizing what was happening to their history and restored Granbury’s outstanding Hood County Courthouse. They saved the town square and a lot of the old buildings that surrounded it before it was too late. The result is a micropolis with Victorian architecture and stories of hot-water cornbread worth visiting more than once.