Historic Downtown Georgetown: Georgetown, Texas
Over the past 10 years the City of Georgetown, Texas, has worked diligently to maintain the unique character of Historic Downtown Georgetown. Enhancing sustainable practices and environmentally friendly infrastructure contributes to the health and high quality of life for its residents.
Centered around the Williamson County Courthouse square, Historic Downtown Georgetown contains commercial, residential, and county and municipal offices. The 40-block district exemplifies environmentally sustainable practices through health-conscious design, use of alternative energy sources, native plants and other types of green infrastructure to reduce runoff, and repurposing well-preserved Victorian buildings for new uses.
The intact Victorian district maintains its historic charm with the Downtown Design Guidelines, which provide aesthetic principles to follow for improvements to properties and new construction within the Downtown and Old Town Historic Overlay Districts. The conservation of historic resources has been a city and community priority, using multiple resources to aid in conservation efforts, including the Downtown Overlay Zoning District, the Historic Resources Survey, and the designation as a Certified Local Government. Protections are also in place to ensure that future development along the corridors does not obstruct views of the courthouse dome.
Georgetown recently completed an Economic Impact on Arts and Culture Study, as well as a Retail and Recruitment Strategies Study, in an effort to increase vitality and attract new people to the neighborhood. The historic fire station was reconfigured into an arts center, including a pocket park with a splash pad, seating, and shade trees, creating a family-friendly gathering space.
The Downtown Master Plan establishes a policy base regarding capital improvements and other public investments, and opportunities for public-private partnerships. Through careful maintenance of the intact sidewalk network and coordinated wayfinding sign system, the district continues to enhance itself as a safe and friendly place to walk while encouraging more active lifestyles. The sidewalks within the downtown also connect into the city’s 26-mile regional trail network, helping lead to the recognition of Williamson County as the 2nd healthiest county in Texas.
The district promotes all modes of transportation, including the operation of a fixed route bus service and two bike share programs. Green infrastructure is supported through design criteria, edible and native landscaping, a city recycling program, and green roofs on businesses.
Georgetown balances the preservation of significant historical landmarks and resources with the need to be economically and environmentally sustainable, the great efforts of which benefit the entire community.
Defining Characteristics and Features
- Historic preservation protections include the Downtown Overlay Zoning District, the Courthouse View Protection Overlay, the Downtown Design Guidelines, the Historic Resources Survey, and the designation as a Certified Local Government since 1986.
- The district’s rich history is protected with the National Register Williamson County Courthouse Historic District. It is a registered Texas Historic Landmark and State Antiquities Landmark.
- The district supports physical activity and healthy lifestyles through city-sponsored 5Ks, employee wellness programming, and locally grown foods at two farm-to-table restaurants.
- Red poppies have been a part of Georgetown’s landscape for over 70 years, after a soldier sent some seeds home to his mother during World War I and the flowers spread over much of Old Town. Each April, Georgetown celebrates with the annual Red Poppy Festival, which brings over 60,000 people to the Town Square. This is a zero-waste event.
- The Arts & Culture Board administers several public art programs, including the utility box art program, rotating sculpture tours around the courthouse square, rotating exhibits at the public library, and administering grants to local arts and culture organizations. Ever-changing exhibits, events, classes and workshops have helped solidify Georgetown’s claim as a cultural destination in Texas.
By the Numbers
- Georgetown is ranked sixth on the list of fastest-growing cities in the country with a population of more than 50,000. Georgetown’s growth rate was 5.4 percent from July 1, 2016, through July 1, 2017, resulting in a population estimate of 70,685.
- Citizens approved a $3.4 million bond in 2015 for sidewalk and ADA improvements within the district, prioritizing walkability.
- With assistance from the Texas Historic Commission, the city has funded projects like updating the local 1984 and 2007 Historic Resources Survey to ensure it has an updated inventory of historic properties. The 2016 survey includes 1,033 properties.
- A 150-megawatt solar power agreement finalized in 2015, together with a 144 megawatt wind power agreement in 2014, makes the City of Georgetown one of the largest municipally owned utilities in the U.S. to supply its customers with 100 percent solar and wind energy.
Historic Downtown Georgetown is bordered by the South Fork of the San Gabriel River to the north, West Street to the west, University Avenue to the south, and South Myrtle Street to the east.