Tour of Old Downtown Brownwood
The Brown County Museum of History, Inc. is pleased to bring you this walking tour of the older section of Brownwood.   This twelve-block tour takes about an hour to walk.

You will start the walk at the old jail that houses the museum and complete your tour back at the jail.  Use the map found at the bottom of this guide to assist you in locating the buildings.

We now have a video and DVD of this tour available for sale at the museum.

Old Brownwood Historical Walk
Starts at Brown County Museum of History

Welcome to Brownwood!  We present this brief twelve-block walk to introduce you to the historical section of our community and its rich history.  Just follow the numbers in order as you walk the trail.  The photos of the buildings will help you locate where you are on the trail.

County Jail built in 19021. Brown County Museum of History - We start here at the museum.  The museum was organized in 1983 by a group of citizens of Brownwood to showcase the history of this area.  The old jail became the focal point of the museum because of its design and availability for a museum. The Brown County Jail exemplifies the principles that governed jail design in America in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  It was designed and constructed by two of the leading jail companies in the South, Youngblood Brothers of Troy, Alabama, and Martin, Moodie & Company of Comanche, Texas.  This building was built in 1902-1903 as the 3rd county jail. It was completed June 29,1903. It is made from cut stone in Brown County, which we think was queried in what is now Lake Brownwood.  Al Morton, a local stonemason, built the stone walls. L. S. Leversedge & Son of Dallas erected the iron fence.

In 1981 the county constructed a new jail and work began to adapt the building as a local museum of history. After much work of restoring the old jail, the museum was opened in 1984.  The Annex, across the street, was acquired in 1986.

One of the most famous prisoners was Ray Bourbon, who was an English actor. He claimed to have acted along w/Mae West and some others of the era. He had 35 cats, 75 dogs, along with some skunks in his tenure. He boarded them with Mr. Blount in Big Spring. Upon his return, he got into an argument with Blount over the bill, and had him killed. He was brought here for trial and sentencing. One day, he asked to use the phone, and when he had completed his call, could not find the jailer. The front door was open, so he just walked out. Walking down the street, he happened to remember some American movies where they turned a prisoner loose in order to shoot him, so he turned around and walked back to the jail. Ray died before sentence could be carried out.

Another escape occurred when two men were put into one of the side cells where they could reach the bars on the windows.  Apparently, someone smuggled a saw blade into them. One morning, the milkman asked the sheriff's wife if she was drying laundry out the second-floor window. When she went out and looked, it was discovered that they had cut the bars, used their sheets for rope, and escaped.  Another escape occurred when a prisoner locked a jailer and a trustee in a cell and fled the premises.

County Courthouse

Old County Courthouse
                  built in 18842.   From the corner of the museum, look over toward the county courthouse.  In the early days of Brownwood, most of the business section of town was built around the square.

The first courthouse for the county was a log cabin about 1-1/2 miles east of its present site.  The courthouse was moved because they were unable to find a decent well, because of salt water, to provide adequate water.  In 1865 a second story was added to a building that was to serve as a Masonic Lodge.  When title to the land proved defective, the courthouse was moved to its current location where a courthouse was built.  This courthouse burned in 1880, and the county had to move into temporary quarters over on what is now Fisk Street.  There was no courthouse from 1880 to 1885, just a vacant square.

A new courthouse was built in 1884 on the same site as the one that burned, with the cornerstone being laid on October 30, 1884.  It was French Second Empire Style,  similar to the courthouses that are now in Weatherford, Lampasas and Hillsboro.  That is, however, not the courthouse you see here today.  In 1916, the county decided to repair or remodel the courthouse, and in so doing, the courthouse was so thoroughly torn down and repaired that only the vault and a few walls from the 1884 courthouse survived.  The remodeling was completed in 1917.  The courthouse of today is known as "classical revival brick".

If you go into the present Justice of Peace office, you will find the outside wall of the old courthouse, as the inside wall of his office.  It curves back at an angle to the outside wall.

North Broadway

3.  Cross the street, staying on the same side of the street as the museum, going east.  A land surveyor report that in 1874 there was a hotel by the name of "The Son Hotel" located on this North side of the square.  It consisted of a room on the north side and a room on the south side, with a passageway located between the two rooms.  The passageway had a lean-to in which the cooking and dining room were located.  There were two beds in each room and pallets for the floor.  The hotel was built of logs and was operated for many years by W. F. & Rhoda Son.

On this corner, directly across the street from the jail, where you are now standing, was the Knight Hotel built in 1885.  It was a three-story building with a basement.  This building changed owners and names many times.  It became the Exchange Hotel in 1898, the Commercial Hotel in 1904 and the Broadway Hotel in 1909.

About 1923, the building was added on to by Dr. Jewel Daugherty and became the Central Texas Hospital.  The first floor was built of stone walls with the upper two floors being mason walls.  It had about thirty beds.  It offered a nurse-training course, which was authorized to issue Registered Nurse certificates.  The hospital finally closed in 1938.  It was reopened during the heydays of Camp Bowie, during World War II, and became the Hotel Central in 1941.  When the war was over, the building was torn down and the Ball & Ball Motor Company built the present building in 1949.  It has had several owners and business since then with Technakill Elimination Service being the present tenant.

Next door to the hotel there use to be "The Golden Rule Saloon" run by a man named Seay.  There was a blacksmith shop next to it.

Old home across from
                  County Courthouse.4.  Continue walking down the street until you come to the next corner.  See that house on the other side of the street, on the NE corner of N. Broadway and N. Fisk?

There has always been a home there since 1898.  It was the Hall home, owned by Tom Hall.  About 1918, the present home was built there and is still occupied. This second home was built of brick but the owners were not fond of the brick so they added rock to the outside.  The house is made of concrete with very thick walls and ceilings.  It originally had gaslights, which were later replaced by electricity.  Each bedroom had its own door to the outside so people could come and go as they pleased.  Eddie Watson lived in the home and lived there from 1970 until 2002.

East Broadway

5.  Cross the street and turn right, going south on what is now a parking lot for the county courthouse.  This area use to be Tom Hall's Livery Stable, with Lathem's Bakery located next door.

6.  Continue down the parking lot side of the street until you come to the flag pole and little park at the South end of the street.  M. V. Coleman, a grocer was located here at this end of the block and later, it became the location for Looney Mercantile.  The Looney store was completed in 1920 and was in business here until 1942.  In the early days of the store, it carried a full line of groceries, hardware, agricultural implements and dry goods.  This area is now known as "Rotary Square," a mini-park built by the Brownwood Rotary Club in late 1976 as a project in honor of the American Bicentennial.

In 1947,  the name of East Broadway was changed to North Fisk to match Fisk Street to the South of here.  Fisk Street was named after Greenleaf Fisk, because he donated sixty acres to the town and one hundred acres to the county for a courthouse and civic center.  He died in 1888, at the age of eighty-one, and is buried in the Greenleaf Cemetary, named for him because he donated the land.

South Broadway

7.  Now look across the street toward the South side of the courthouse. On the corner was Happy Jack's Saloon in the late 1800's.  Later, the Corner Drug was located there.  It is now the offices of Charlie V. Gamblin, Attorney.   In the 1880's the White Elephant Saloon was next door, with its sign, a white elephant on a pole, out in front.  Next door to this saloon was Hodges and McCord, a general mercantile store, followed by another saloon known as the "OO Saloon."  Other businesses included J. M. Summers, a clothing and grocery store, a Drug store, Ramey, Smith & Company, which was another clothing and grocery store, then a fruit and confectionery called "The Hole In The Wall," operated by Jim Smith.  The corner store was occupied by the Looney Dry Goods and Grocery.    J. C. Weakley, of Weakley-Watson Hardware Store, had his first hardware store in the same block, at 209 S. Broadway, earlier in 1876.

400 Block N. Fisk

8.  Now let's cross the street at the light and continue South to the 400 block of N. Fisk.  Stay on this side of the street. This East side of this entire block use to be the Wash Hall's Livery Stable, which was the biggest in West Texas.  They employed five men and met all the trains in town.  It had barns all the way past Pecan Street to the banks of Adams Branch.  Wash Hall bought an open bus-type conveyance that he rented out to local people with a driver for the horses.  The conveyance became known as "The Booze Wagon" because the first group that rented it got roaring drunk.  Businessmen used the rented wagon for trips to nearby towns, and families rented it out for picnics.

The first telephone line in Brown County ran from Hall's Livery Stable to the city water pump station which was located on the stream nearby.  The phone was used to know when to increase the water pressure in case of fire.  One time the pump master raised the pressure so high it buckled the pipes in the street.   By 1896, there were six phones in town.

The Empire Furniture Company built a building on this Hall Livery Stable site in about 1904 and was in business through the early 30's.  Their business covered this entire block.

300 Block N. Fisk

9.  Now, let's continue down the street to the 300 block of N. Fisk, still staying on the East side of the street to 308 N. Fisk.  At this location was the Wells Fargo's office, which also housed the telegraph, and on the second floor, the IOOF Hall (Odd Fellows) was here about 1913.  This also became Cheapskate Chandler's in the 1950's.  Ova S. Chandler, who lived upstairs, had to have a wall taken out to get a grand piano into her home.

10.  Next to this building use to be Marguart's Blacksmith Shop in 1884 and later became Marguart's Garage by 1921.

11.  Behind this building, on Pecan Street, was the old jail built in 1876 at the corner of North Pecan and Water Streets.  That building and the courthouse were torn down after they burned in 1880 and all the county records were destroyed.   Another jail was built in 1881, but by 1901, the jail was recognized as being insufficient for the county's needs.  So the jail where the museum is now located was constructed in 1903.

12.  A building at 301 N. Fisk was built by J. C. Weakley back in 1880.  This building has since been torn down by 1909.  He first rented it out to the courthouse when the old courthouse burned back in 1880.  Nelse Allman remembered that court was held upstairs in the building at this location prior to the present courthouse being constructed.

13.  The building still standing at 303 N. Fisk was constructed in 1909 and opened as Charles Haynie Groceries.  The grocery store was still in business in 1913 but by 1921 it was W. C. Furniture Company.  They have a photo of the building hanging in the hallway that was taken in 1909.

Continue walking down the street to the corner and cross the street.

Mayes Street off N. Fisk

14.  Looking west on East Street, you will see the little triangle shape building that is now the Morgan's Gun & Ammo shop.  This is at 100 Mayes Street.  A frame building was originally located on this lot.  At one time from 1898 to 1913, it was part of City Hall.  Starting in 1924, it was a filling station. It has also served as a bicycle shop and was a shoe shop in 1915.  Joe Bob Morgan now owns this building which belonged to his father, John Luther Morgan. When Joe Bob's father owned the filling station, he had the family live upstairs on the second floor, as he did not want to pay 7 cents a gallon for gas to get from his house to the filling station every day.   He had rented out his home at 3801 Austin Avenue, to bring in some extra money back in the Great Depression.  That, and the fact that Luther's wife, Emma, had died shortly after giving birth to their 4th child, Emma Bea Morgan.  Luther was having to raise four very young children by himself, and having his family close by, at the store, was the only way he could handle it. Note that the filling station sign is still standing at the corner of the building. 

200 Block N. Fisk

200 Block of North Fisk15.  Continue on down to 205 Fisk, to what is now Julie A. Taylor, CPA's office.  The B. S. "Steve" Boysen family who came over from Denmark built this two-story building in 1880.  They opened the Boysen Meat Market on the first floor and the family lived on the second floor.  There was an ad in the 1913 telephone book that stated "Choice meats of all kinds, fish and oysters in season."  Boysen owned a large pasture near town and his pens were always filled with "beeves, hogs and sheep" for his customer's needs!  The Boysen Market was still in business in 1930.

You will find in the sidewalk, on the left side of this building, the name of A. Arczie.  He was a concrete man who built most of the sidewalks in this old part of Brownwood. He was part of the Joseph Krischke & Son Contractors and Builders of that day.  These sidewalks were poured in the early 1900's, prior to 1910. Arczie's two story stone home, which is still standing, is located on Pecos Street over behind the coliseum. You will find that name again in the sidewalk next to the old Brooke Smith and Company Bank building at 114 E. Baker.

Graham Hotel16.  Next door to Julie Taylor's office, at 201 N. Fisk, W. D. R. McConnell, a dry good merchant, had a building here in a wooden store constructed of rawhide lumber, that is, green lumber.  This lot was later to become the site of the Crown Hotel from 1904 to 1919.  The Graham Hotel took over the hotel, from 1919 to 1932. When the Graham Hotel took over it only had three stories.   If you will look up, you will notice that a fourth floor was added.  This was done in 1920.  The hotel was owned by William Graham. The Brownwood Rotary Club was organized in 1920 and first met in this hotel.

At the beginning of World War II and the building of Camp Bowie, the old hotel was remodeled and was used by the Salvation Army USA for a USO Club until the war was over.  During the late 1940's and early 1950's the Chamber of Commerce office were in the building as well as the Soil Conservation Service. A clothing center was located on the third floor and the Jaycees had a boys club on the fourth floor.  They had a boxing ring and a boxing club.  Ed Devenry had boxing matches up on the fourth floor.

In the late 50's the building was sold to the VFW.  They had bingo on the second floor and had their meetings on the first floor.  The Eagles Club also met on the second floor.

Insurance Specialists have occupied the building since 1988.  Prior to that time, Landmark Life was in the building when Putter Jarvis bought the building, remodeled it, and moved in February 1968.

100 Block N. Fisk

17.  At the NE corner of the nex block, 117 N. Fisk, on the Brown Street side, you will see in the sidewalk the name of "O. C. Pouns, 1928."  This was when this sidewalk was built.  He lived in the back of this building for many years.

18.  Look across the street.  The building now occupied by Porter Insurance Company formerly was the Red Top Service Station from 1923 to 1938 and later was a used car dealer.  In back of the Porter Insurance Company, in 1885, was the Sunny South Hotel.

100 Block Fisk

19.  Continue down this West side of the street until you come to the vacant lot on your right.  The first picture show that Nelse Allman saw was about 1899 in this area.  It was on the back of the northeast side of a building his father had built in 1886 at 101 Fisk. There were no seats; you simple stood in the courtyard and watched the show.  It was not actually a motion picture, but it was a magic lantern show, done with slides, though the operator was clever in securing the effect of a moving train.   According to Allman, there were times when he made his projection on the wall of the building too realistic for the comfort of nearby watchers.  The show was free, sponsored by merchants who bought advertising from the magic lanterns owner.  He eventually moved from there to the middle of the block, on what is now the North Fisk side, and opened an indoor theater.

20.  Now look across the street to the two-story building just south of Porter Insurance.  This building, which is on the NE corner of Fisk and Baker, was built in 1888 and was originally the Hurlbut Hardware Company.  They had five warehouses and carried harvesters, gins, rotary plows, planters, carriages, buggies, bicycles, steel ranges, refrigerators, Red Jack pumps, saddles, harnesses, ten and sheet metal roofing.  The year they opened this store, they hired Lee Watson as their bookkeeper.

In 1893, Lee Watson married J. C. Weakley's daughter, Mary Helen Weakley.  Remember that J. C. Weakley had a hardware store on South Broadway, across the street from the courthouse, in 1876.  Since then, J. C. Weakley had moved his store several times and in 1893 he was located over where the Brownwood Hotel Coffee Shop use to be.  Well, Weakley offered his new son-in-law a partnership in Weakley's hardware store.  He accepted and the now Weakley-Watson store moved into this building in at 100 Fisk in 1909.  They had their hardware store there until 1986 when they moved to their present location about a block from here. The ceilings in this building are 16 feet high.  They had a rolling ladder to retrieve items from shelves, which went all the way to the ceiling.

A buggy room occupied the entire second floor of this building in the 1910's.  They had double doors located in the rear of the building for rolling the buggies to the ground level on a ramp.  The doors are still there.  They went out of the buggy business in 1928 when they sold the last of their buggies to a firm in San Saba for $25 each.  The front of the store was changed to its present appearance in 1946.  Weakley-Watson Hardware store is the oldest continuous business in Brownwood, dating back to that first store in 1876.

Baker Street21.  On the right side of Baker Street was the Hemphill-Fain Company, 101-105 N Fisk, located here in 1921, where the Texas Furniture Company use to be.  This building has a history of its own.  The second floor use to serve as rooms for the hotel that was located next to it, and it also served as the Elk's Lodge Hall in 1915.  Texas Furniture was located in this building from 1938 until 2001 when they moved to Commerce Square.  The building on the left side of the photo burned and has been replaced with a building that looks similar.

By the way, Fisk Street, use to be named Church Street because of all the churches that were located on this street, South of where we are standing.  About 1909, the name was changed to Fisk Street.

East Baker

Brownwood Hotel22.  Now walk to the corner of Fisk and Baker and look across the street to the tall twelve-story building there.  In the late 20's there existed a need for a new hotel in Brownwood.  The two main hotels, the Graham on Fisk and the Southern Hotel on Center had both deteriorated to the point where they were not suited to house the traveling public.  Joe Renfro, who owned several drug stores in town, spearheaded the building of a new hotel to be known as the Hotel Brownwood.  The twelve-story building cost $600,000 and work started on the building on January 1, 1930, and was completed that November.  The hotel was very successful during World War II with contractors for Camp Bowie and the families of Camp Bowie soldiers staying at the hotel.  All the service clubs were now meeting at the hotel and many a dinner and event was held in the ballroom on the top floor.  The swimming pool, now filled with dirt, was built in 1964, and the hotel became known as the Browntowner Hotel.

The hotel declined over the years and on February 19, 1969, Howard Payne announced that as of March 10, the building would become the Sid Richardson dormitory for men.  The hotel is now closed and the owner of the building has been looking for a buyer for several years.

23.  Turn the corner and go to your right and go west on Baker Street.  Behind the Texas Furniture store, on Baker Street, is the George & Ingram Barber Shop.  There has been a barbershop in this building since 1893.  It still has baths in the back of the shop.

24.  Next door, what is now a parking lot was the Maxwell Hotel (1888).  The name of this hotel changed many times.   It was also the Walker Hotel (1893); the Crown Hotel (1904 - 1920), the Princess Hotel (1913 - 1915); the Jefferson Hotel (1921-1925); the Texas Hotel (1927-29) and finally the Travelers Hotel from 1944 - 1947, all located at 200-220 E. Baker.  The building was finally torn down in 1954 and the land made into a parking lot.  Interesting, the first water closets in Brownwood were located in the Maxwell Hotel.  One was for women and one was for men. They were the type with the tank overhead and a pull chain.  It scared many people when they pulled the chain and all that water came rushing down to flush the toilet!

25.  Across the street you will see the Winn Pharmacy at 203 E. Baker.  In 1913 this was the Hallum-Langtry Drug Company and in 1925 became the Hallum Drug Company.

26.  Next to the pharmacy, at 201 E. Baker, was the Renfro-McMinn Drug, in 1925.  This building was built by John Greenleaf Fisk in 1893. It has served as a drugstore, grocery store, paint store and is now a CPA office.  Henry Colyer's CPA offices have occupied this building since 1956.

Former Pecan Valley Bank27.  The vacant, boarded up two story building, just at the end of this parking lot and across Brown Street, at 114 E. Baker, was a private bank called the Pecan Valley Bank.   This bank was formerly located on the SW corner of the Square in 1876.  Later the bank changed its name to the Brooke Smith and Company and relocated here.  There were no such things as examiners for a private bank and when the depression came after World War I, Mr. Smith was unable to collect his loans and just closed the doors to the bank in 1921.  He called a meeting of his depositors at the Lyric Theater and told him of his decision.  He owned a lot of land in Brownwood and exchanged the land for their deposits so there were very few big losses.  The K of P Lodge was located on the second floor of the bank in 1898 and was still there in the 1960's.

If you will look at the sidewalk on the east side of this bank building, you will notice that the name of A. Arczie is stamped in the concrete of the sidewalk.

Coggin National Bank28.  Now look directly across the street at 115 E. Baker at a building that is being restored.  This was the Coggin National Bank, which was established in 1883 as the Coggin Bros. & Ford Bank.  This bank was forced to close in 1930 and was taken over by the Citizen National Bank.

Next door to this bank, now a vacant lot, was a theater built by Claude Boyette.  Nothing is known about this theater except that it was there from 1915 to at least 1920.  Claude Boyette also built the Gem Theater at 203 Center around 1928.
Corner of Baker & Center

29.  If you will look further down this empty lot, which is being turned into a park, was the J. C. Penny Company.  It was located there at the SE corner of Center and Baker from 1950 to 1980 when it moved out to Heartland Mall in Early.  Prior to this time, the Garner-Alvis Company Department Store was located here from about 1925 till 1947.

Former Citizens National
                  Bank & Renfro Drug30.  Now walk down to the corner of Baker and Center Streets.  Look diagonally across the street at the two-story building there on the corner.  On June 29, 1906, a group in town founded the Citizens National Bank.  They were located here at 201 Center Ave, now owned by Krischke & Co, PC.  The bank building was built at that corner in 1909 and served as a bank until 1928.   In 1928, the bank built a new six-story building at 300 Center (now Brownwood Manor).  It is the tall building you see in the next block down Center and on your left. A J. F. Renfro Drug then moved into this old bank building and was located here from 1931 to 1969.  Krischke & Co, PC  has owned the building since 1981.

31.  Here at this NE corner of Baker and Center where you are standing, was an Opera House located in the second floor of the then Bernet Building.  It was a two story stone building about fifty feet wide.  The Brownwood National Bank later took over this corner and built this five-story bank building there in 1910.  This was the first tall building in the city and had the first elevator and indoor toilets.  The bank later became the First National Bank at Brownwood in 1921.  On July 30, 1960, the bank moved across the street to what is now known as Bank of America.  The Greenwood Printing Company was located next to the bank in 1913, where the vacant lot is now.

32.  Across the street, on the corner, where Bank of America is now located, the J.C. Penny Company had a store from 1923 to 1958.  They, of course, built their new store and moved diagonally across the street over to where the benches are now. The Ritz Theater was located two doors down from Penny's at 103 Center from 1941 - 1949.  It shut down after World War II and Camp Bowie closed.  The F. W. Woolworth store was located on that side of the street at 105-109 Center from 1923 to 1952.

100 Block of Center

33.  Now let's continue walking back toward the courthouse on this side of Center Street.  Stop at this next corner, where the Southwest Appliance and Furniture store is now.

In about 1884, the First National Bank of Brownwood was established and was originally located on the NW corner of Center and S. Broadway, the same location as the Pecan Valley Bank in 1876.  The bank moved sometime later to this SE corner of 100 Center and Mayes. The building is no longer here.  On July 1, 1898, it surrendered its charter and continued as a private bank as The Trent Bank.  D. W. Trent of Galveston owned the bank.  There is no record of the date of its closing.  Also at this corner was the Southern Savings and Loan Association.  Later, the Baxter Brothers Department Store was located here in 1913 and the Brownwood Semi-Weekly News was here from 1921 to 1923.

The Brownwood Banner, and H. G. Seaman and one of Weakley's Hardware stores was at 100-2 N. Center.

100 Block of N. Center

Former Brownwood National
                  Bank34.  Look across the street toward the courthouse at the two story building in this next block.  The Brownwood National Bank was founded in 1892 and was located at this NE corner, here at 100 N. Center just across the street from the First National Bank of Brownwood (which was located at 100 Center). This bank moved in 1910 to its new five-story building down the street where we just came from, and later became the First National Bank at Brownwood.  Later, in this old building, the Queen Hotel was in existence from 1921 to 1930.

It is here that the street changes from Center to North Center.

35.  At the other end of this same building, what is now Brownwood Southwest Appliance, the Kentucky Store of Ramey, Smith & Company was located.  Southwest Appliances has been located in this area since about 1966.  This building has very thick walls that divide the five buildings that make up this block.  Note that all the windows on the second floor are rounded at the top except for the windows on the north end of the building where they are square.  That is because that section of the building was added on later.

In 1940, Dudley Brothers Federal Tires and Tubes was also on the north corner of this building, next to it was Central Hardware Co., and then the Texas Cafe was where the Brownwood Bank was located.  On the backside of the building, in 1940, was a cleaners, a tailor shop and a rubber welding shop. On the second floor of this building, above where the Texas Cafe was, is a large canvas painting on a wall of Antelope.  The mural was thought to have been painted by World War II prisoners that were being held at Camp Bowie.

200 Block of N. Center

post office bookstore36.  Directly across the street from the Texas Cafe, 201 N. Center, in 1895, Wise & Mayes had a bookstore known locally as the "post office bookstore."  The post office was located in the back of the store and was run by E. E. King, a democrat and Monk Mullins, a republican.  They alternated as postmaster, and assistant postmaster, depending on which party was in the White House at the time.

Former Texas Theater37.   At 205 N. Center was located the Texas Theater, which was active from 1941 to 1949.  Some of the projection equipment is still located in the building.

Now, continue walking on down N. Center toward the Courthouse to the end of the next block and cross the street to the West Side.

Coggin and Parks Building38.  You will find the old Coggin and Parks Building located here on the SW corner of N. Center and Broadway.  William W. Bell Law officers now occupy this building.  There is a historical plaque located on the corner of the building on the S. Broadway side of Center Street. The historical plaque, dated 1981 reads, "Brothers Samuel R. Coggin (1831- 1915) and Moses J. 'Mody' Coggin (1824-1902) prominent area ranchers, business leders, and philanthropists, in partnership with the businessman William Claibourne 'Clay' Parks (1833-1916) completed this two-story commercial building in 1876.  Originally part of a larger structure, it housed a variety of businesses, including a grocery, hardware store, business college and restaurant.  Because of the primary location, the Coggins-Parks building figured prominently in the early history of Brownwood.  The exterior of the structure as later altered substantially."  At one time there was an Opera House located on the second story of this building.  There was a Wilson Grocery here in 1913.

West of Courthouse Square

39.   Look down South Broadway to the left. The two story structure located at 108 S. Broadway was the site of many different hotels dating back to 1885. The Harper Hotel and Grocery Store, known as the "The Harper House" occupied the site from around 1904-1942.  At the top of the structure is a marker with a backward "S" in the word “House".  Stories say that George Harper, had a little too much “spirit", when molding the marker and it has been there ever since.  The hotel had about 30 rooms with the City Wagon Yard located behind it. The dining room served family-styled meals for 25 cents.  The present owners, direct descendants of the Harper family are restoring the structure and creating two loft apartments where the hotel rooms once were.

Former Smith &
                  Steffens Dry Goods and Groceries Establishment40.  Cross the street going toward the museum and stop on the corner.  You are on the sidewalk directly across from the courthouse now.  We had on this corner, in 1876, the Smith & Steffens Dry Goods and Groceries establishment. The Pecan Valley Bank was located in the back of the store. By 1884, the Pecan Valley Bank had moved.  The name of yet another new bank appeared on the sign on the same corner as the First National Bank.  Brooke Smith had his band in the rear of this store. Their best customers were the cowboys and ranchers that came to town to shop and drink.

We know that further down this block was a bakery & confectionery, a furniture and coffin store and a drug store on the corner.  There was also N. A. Allman & Brother and Wally Bell's place and The Crystal Saloon.  Other places of business that were located in this block included Ed Parks furniture store, and Dr. Johnson's drug store. You will want to continue walking on north side of this street until you get back to the museum.

Back at Museum

41.  Before the country jail was built, there stood the ruins of an old grain elevator destroyed by fire, and later rebuilt. Behind it was the Brownwood Bottling Company.

We hope you have enjoyed this brief walking tour of this old historical section of Brownwood. We are indebted to many resources for the writing of this tour.  This includes the Brownwood Bulletin, April 5, 1984; Pecan Valley Days, by T. C. Smith, Jr., 1956, written on the 100th Anniversary of Brownwood; Something About Brown, by T. R. Havins; The Nice and Nasty in Brown County by Ruth Griffin Spence, 1988; the many writings of Lee Watson; the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps, 1885-1946; Pattie Jordan's 4th Grade Class at Woodland Heights Elementary School; the various City Directories in the Brownwood Library and all of the citizens of Brownwood who shared their personal information and photos for this tour.

Center Street look North

Click HERE to download the map that goes with this walking tour.

Last Changed: March 24, 2011
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