City marks celebration with dedication of downtown plaza
The first recorded history of Western expansion into the Round Rock area dates back to the 1830s—an era when the region still belonged to Mexico and was predominantly populated by the Tonkawa and Comanche Indian tribes.
It took more than 80 years and one failed attempt at creating a city government, but in December 1912, the residents of Round Rock voted to incorporate the town and soon after elected their first mayor and City Council. Within a year of its incorporation, the city’s residents had created a local school district, Round Rock ISD, and installed the first street lights and speed limit signs.
“We were founded back in the 1830s,” said Kristin Brown, Round Rock special event coordinator. “[Residents] voted to incorporate in , but in the [1890s] that resolution was dissolved. So 1912 was when our last incorporation was. The official date was Dec. 21, 1912.”
Brown said the city held off on celebrating the centennial in December to avoid conflicts with holiday events.
Round Rock’s early history was marked by outlaws such as the infamous John Wesley Hardin and Sam Bass, along with the post–Civil War railroad expansion that opened up the area to new travelers and immigration. By the end of the first decade of the 20th century, however, the city had matured into a rural-based community able to support local businesses.
“It is interesting how many times Round Rock was known for something in different industries,” said Bob Brinkman, coordinator of the Historical Markers Program for the Texas Historical Commission.
According to Brinkman’s research, some of Round Rock’s notable early industries, businesses and employers included Round Rock White Lime Co., Round Rock Broom Co. and Trinity Lutheran College.
In 1928, at the precipice of the Great Depression, the Round Rock Cheese Factory opened and became a crucial component of the city’s economy during the Depression years by supporting local jobs and farmers.
“[The cheese factory] was perfectly timed for when agricultural prices collapsed right before and during the stock market crash,” Brinkman said.
Regional transportation also played a major factor in Round Rock’s development. In 1928, the city beat Taylor and Manor in a competition to secure the route of State Highway 2. SH 2 became the precursor to Hwy. 81, opened in 1934, which in turn laid out the path for I-35, which opened through Round Rock in 1968.
“If Taylor had been on the road that became the interstate … they would be the city of 100,000, and Round Rock would be the sleepy little hamlet of a few thousand,” Brinkman said.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of its current incorporation, the City of Round Rock is hosting a centennial celebration April 27. The schedule of events includes concerts, a street fair, a custom car show and the dedication of the soon-to-be-completed Centennial Plaza, a multiuse outdoor music and event facility located adjacent to the McConico Building.
“[The Centennial Plaza] is amazing,” Brown said. “It has gone from an amphitheater surrounded by dust and grass, to a two-stage facility. They have built another stage that will be able to accommodate close to 1,000 folks.”
The new plaza is another step toward the city’s goal of realizing the Downtown Master Plan approved by City Council in 2010. The overall vision of the plan aims to rejuvenate the downtown area while also retaining the connections to the city’s past.
The City of Round Rock is hosting a day and evening of events April 27 to recognize its centennial year and the dedication of the new Centennial Plaza located behind the McConico Building. For information, call 512-218-5447 or visit www.roundrocktexas.gov/centennial.