Granbury Chamber of Commerce Area Guide - 2015 Granbury Chamber Bluetoad

Exploring Granbury

Susan Karnes 2015-01-22 00:07:59

SCENIC, FRIENDLY, CENTRALLY LOCATED AND AFFORDABLE, GRANBURY IS AN IDEAL DESTINATION – AND PLACE TO HANG YOUR HAT. Postcard-perfect charm is the first thing that draws visitors to Granbury. The historic courthouse square is brimming with inviting shops and restaurants, the sparkling lake meanders through the town. Beyond the square and lake, there’s more to Granbury’s appeal: pristine golf courses, lively entertainment, serene parks and trails, fascinating historic sites, vineyards and wineries, accommodating hotels and unique bed and breakfasts. And yet Granbury’s welcoming spirit is the reason visitors return – and why more are moving to the historic Texas town. The Jewel of the Brazos Honored as “Best Town Square in Texas” and “Best Small Town Getaway” and featured in the Wall Street Journal and Southern Living, the city enjoys an enduring popularity among world travelers and Texans alike. Emily Graham, association executive for the Granbury Association of Realtors, is a proud fifth generation resident of Hood County and can’t imagine living anywhere else. “There are qualities of life here that are unmatched,” she says. “Friendliness, warmth – an authentic welcoming charm.” Graham and longtime residents have witnessed a dramatic change during their lifetimes. When Graham’s great-great-great grandfather Abe Nutt lived in Granbury, he owned a riverboat crossing on the Brazos River. Today, thanks to the creation of Lake Granbury from the Brazos in 1969 that sparked a renaissance, a day in Granbury is more likely to include a stroll on City Beach, shopping spree on the square or tasting at a trendy micro-brewery or winery. “There are a multitude of things to see and do around Granbury— including splashing around in Lake Granbury, seven golf courses and fishing—but if you’re looking for the ideal weekend getaway, you can’t go wrong with Granbury’s Historic Downtown Square.” Historic Tales Unfold Even before the lake was created from the Brazos River, the area had attracted notoriety. Comanche dominated the region for centuries, scouting from atop rocky bluffs, when waves of 19thcentury settlers arrived, carving farms where thick vegetation afforded ample grazing for livestock. The Comanche raided until 1872, stealing horses and kidnapping children, and settlers retaliated until an agreement was struck with the U.S. government. Soon after, another threat to peace appeared on the Granbury scene as a few notorious outlaws, reputed to include Belle Starr, John Wilkes Booth and Jesse James, roamed the square. By 1969, however, Granbury was perhaps too peaceful: Half of the storefronts on the courthouse square were boarded up. Enter Jo Ann Miller, one of those responsible for today’s charming destination. As she pondered the abandoned Opera House built in 1886, her mind envisioned its full theatrical potential. A former singer in the Tommy Dorsey Band, Miller became Granbury’s guardian angel for musical theater for two decades. Another visionary was Mary Lou Watkins. The legendary cook, whose statue greets visitors on the square, was renowned for her chicken and dumplings, hot-water cornbread and buttermilk pie. She, too, was stirred by a passion for preservation. She restored the Nutt House Hotel, built in 1893 by her grandfather, and inspired the fight to gain National Historic District status for downtown Granbury. “There are qualities of life here that are unmatched. Friendliness, warmth – an authentic welcoming charm.” Emily Graham, association executive for the Granbury Association of Realtors FACES OF GRANBURY Leta Andrews For Granbury native Leta Andrews, hard work pays off with big numbers. A high school basketball coach for 52 years — 26 of those at Granbury — Leta played for the Lady Pirates herself in the 1950s when it was a six-player game. Her 1,416 coaching career victories is the national record for the most wins in girls’ or boys’ basketball. She passed Robert Hughes, retired boys’ coach at Fort Worth’s Dunbar High, in 2010. Over the years, she led her teams to 16 state finals, including a state championship in 1990. She’s part of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, and the Granbury High School basketball court bears her name. A documentary is in the making, and a movie is not out of the question. “It’s been hard work, but a great labor of love,” she says of her career. “Winning a state championship is every coach’s dream, but the years we fell short, those teams worked hard and gave all they had, sometimes losing by a single point.” Leta retired at the end of the 2013-14 season after influencing the lives of hundreds of young women, including her three daughters who went on to play for the University of Texas. All became coaches, two beat her into retirement and one still teaches. Daughter Linda Sue is part of the Texas High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Amy Acuff, a valedictorian of Calallen High School in Corpus Christi where Leta coached for 12 years, represented the U.S. in five Olympic Games in the high-jump competition. Jia Perkins — a former Lady Pirate — plays guard for the San Antonio Stars of the Women’s National Basketball Association. She taught them all that whining, complaining and making excuses are seldom if ever the hallmarks of success. Rather discipline, determination and passion — qualities learned as a farm girl with chores to do, lessons to learn and always a basketball game to win — pay off. As wiry as ever, Leta spends most days on a tractor — a gift from husband David, a retired school administrator and quite the baseball player in his younger years — either working the family’s 1,600-acre ranch or helping neighbors with plowing and shredding. “There comes a time in life when you just have to give back,” she explains. “This is my time. Any day I don’t work hard serving others is a wasted day.” Leta hasn’t wasted a day in 76 years and probably never will. “There comes a time in life when you just have to give back. This is my time. Any day I don’t work hard serving others is a wasted day.” By Cecilia Jacobs Photography by Randy Ziegler Today, Granbury’s historic courthouse square attracts thousands to more than 50 unique shops, galleries and boutiques. Inviting restaurants and shaded benches along the pedestrian-friendly streets invite passersby to linger and relax. Two parking areas within one block of the square are conveniently tucked behind the scenes, and state historical markers tell of bygone days, when buildings on the square served as saloons, gun shops, sheriff’s office and jail. As tells its followers, “There are a multitude of things to see and do around Granbury—including splashing around in Lake Granbury, seven golf courses and fishing—but if you’re looking for the ideal weekend getaway, you can’t go wrong with Granbury’s Historic Downtown Square.” FACES OF GRANBURY Mike Tabor Mike Tabor knows that life seldom goes as planned. Sometimes it’s better. The challenge of college chemistry upset plans to be a forest ranger. A degree in art kept him from dropping out of Tarleton State University. Drawings for cattle publications led to a reputation as one of America’s most respected Western artists and the chance to use his gifts to inspire others. It didn’t happen overnight. As a third generation rancher, there was cowboying and rodeoing. Next, marriage to Suzy and the joint venture of the Calico Cattle Company in Hood and Somervell counties. Then came children, and the desire for full-time involvement in art led to a teaching position at Granbury High School — a position enjoyed for 23 years. “I thought I’d cut a fat hog when I sold my first two drawings for $300,” Mike says. “I had no idea what the future held. It’s certainly nothing like I ever imagined. I didn’t know if people would like my postmodern approach to Western themes.” They do. So much so that Mike’s reputation spreads across the United States and Europe. People are impressed with his use of light, color and ability to create more with less. Mike credits his vision to the pop artists of the 60s and the impressionistic movement. When best friend and sculptor Dan Coates died, John Hancock Financial asked Mike if he’d carry on in his place, sculpting annual awards for its employees. “I said yes without thinking,” Mike explains. “I didn’t even know if I could sculpt.” Last year, Team Hoyt was recipient of a lifesize bronze statue — also commissioned by John Hancock. Mike took inspiration from the Hoyts even before he started the project two years earlier. The father-son duo annually competes in the Boston Marathon — a tradition started more than three decades ago. Dick, the father, 74, pushes his quadriplegic son, Rick, 52, in a wheelchair along the 26.2-mile route. The statue celebrates self-sacrifice, heroism and the bond between a father and son. It inspires those who see it to believe that anything is possible. “To be asked to sculpt a memorial to the Hoyts, I was totally blown away,” Mike says. “Theirs is a story that will be remembered forever.” So is Mike’s. Drawings for cattle publications led to a reputation as one of America’s most respected Western artists and the chance to use his gifts to inspire others. By Cecilia Jacobs Photography by Randy Ziegler GENERAL JOHN BELL HOOD As America celebrated the end of the Civil War in 1866, brothers J. and J.H. Nutt donated land for a riverfront town that became Granbury, named for Confederate Gen. Hiram Bronson Granbury. The 11th Legislature established Hood County, honoring a Confederate war hero and leader of the Texas Brigade, Gen. John Bell Hood. Hood’s story echoes the abundant chronicles of brave frontier men and women in Texas. The native Kentuckian and West Point graduate declared himself a Texan after an Indian skirmish in which he suffered an arrow wound to the left hand. Despite a later wound during the Battle of Gettysburg that left his left arm useless, he continued serving in the Army. Again in battle, he was shot in the upper right thigh, necessitating amputation. Lashed to his saddle, minus a leg and with an arm of no use, Hood led his men into battle in a fearless charge for the Confederacy in Tennessee. THE CROCKETT CONNECTION By the mid-19th century, settlers of European descent like Elizabeth Crockett, widow of Alamo hero Davy Crockett, began to establish farms along the Brazos River. Elizabeth settled on a league of land awarded to her by the Republic of Texas in gratitude for her husband’s service during the Texas Revolution in 1836. Granbury Knows How to Throw A Party A Sense of Community Community-wide celebrations create a festive yearlong atmosphere. “Granbury occupies a unique place in the constellation of Texas small towns,” Christopher Kelly wrote in a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article. “For one thing, it obliterates all clichés about such places being ‘sleepy.’ Head to Granbury on any weekend … and you’ll likely stumble upon some sort of festival, theatrical performance or outdoor music event.” The Granbury Chamber of Commerce’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July Festival, the community’s signature event, draws tens of thousands to the three-day celebration’s parade, contests and acclaimed fireworks. And everybody is sure to turn out for Civil War Gen. Hiram Granbury’s birthday celebration in March, complete with cook-offs and a parade. In April, the Wine Walk, featuring local wines and gourmet fare, becomes the toast of the town. The Harvest Moon Festival in October features a pooch parade and pumpkin carving. Replete with Oompah bands, brats and beer, the Granbury Oktoberfest, the brainchild of Ketzler’s Schnitzel Haus and Biergarten, was a rousingly successful inaugural event in 2014. The Christmas parade in late November precedes by a few weeks the Candlelight Tour of Homes when owners open their historic residences, decorated in Christmas finery, to the public. The Historic Granbury Merchants Association hosts a monthly Ladies’ Night Out and numerous special events. “Events like the Old-Fashioned 4th of July engage everyone in the community,” Graham says. With so much to do, it’s no wonder that people are relocating to Granbury. "Charming Granbury is forever on ‘best small towns’ lists and features a man-made lakeside beach and an idyllic town square, along with plenty of history and good eats. Together, these neighbors make for a nature-filled weekend that can be as active — or as contemplative — as you want." Sandra Ramani, FODOR’S FACES OF GRANBURY Charles Inge Reading poetry by Charles Inge inspires you. Hearing him read it changes you. A collection of 115 poems, Brazos View tells the 21-year history of the Brazos House — from a cottage to spend the weekends to the nearby custom-built home that Charles and wife Dominique plan to enjoy for the rest of their lives. Just south of Historic Granbury Square, the home perches on a bluff overlooking the lake. The views are breathtaking and the gardens exhilarating. Charles and Dominique find inspiration here. He writes poetry that wakes the senses, inspires living and touches the soul. She designs the kind of gardens pictured on magazine covers. She writes about them, too, in A Garden on the Brazos: Green Thoughts in a Texas Garden. As a Dallas real estate executive with a hurryscurry schedule, Charles put aside his poetry for many years. It was a sporadic effort. Moving to Granbury made time for the muse. “Writing poetry helps clear my mind, sorting things out and reasoning about the uncertainties of life,” Charles explains. “I love the compactness and quickness of poetry. Each poem tells a complete easy-to-read story. I write to secure the recollection of images and perceptions too precious to lose and for the mental stimulation it brings.” Charles’ poems focus on thoughts, feelings, persons, places or life events. “Driftwood Pieces” tells of the limbs and logs “stark, skeletal, half in, half out of the water” that he finds along Lake Granbury’s shore and turns into sculptural pieces. “Distant Storm” contrasts the “capricious nature” of dramatic scenes and destructive winds, and “The 4th” pays tribute to Granbury’s annual red-white-and-blue festivities. Charles’ work has appeared online in Amarillo Bay, and in the Willow Creek Journal, Concho River Review and Granbury Showcase magazine, and in the 2006-2007 Langdon Review of the Arts in Texas. Writers and artists (painters, sculptors, photographers, film producers) gather in Granbury each September for the Langdon Review Weekend sponsored by Tarleton State University. Texas poets laureate read their work at a picnic under an aged live oak at the Brazos House. Their voices are clear, full of emotion, laced with magic — the way Charles reads his work. “ I write to secure the recollection of images and perceptions too precious to lose and for the mental stimulation it brings.” By Cecilia Jacobs Photography by Randy Ziegler Outdoor Adventures There’s more to Granbury than its pristine and historic square. City Beach Park offers fun in the sand and water a short stroll from downtown. The Moments in Time Hike/Bike Trail winds more than two miles from Granbury Regional Airport to Lambert Branch Park near the square. Phase two of the trail will soon connect City Beach. Nearby Acton Nature Center, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, Dinosaur World and Dinosaur State Park offer education and recreation surrounded by natural beauty. Fans of live music applaud the venues in the town of 8,800. The 20-piece Langdon Center Big Band, an outreach of the Dora Lee Langdon Cultural and Educational Center just off the courthouse square, presents concerts and recitals throughout the year. The Barking Rocks Winery tasting room in Granbury and the Bluff Dale Vineyards, with its porch view of the northern Hill Country, host concerts along with locally produced and award-winning wines. Pemberton Cellars, the newest addition to Granbury’s impressive wine scene, plans to introduce live entertainment in 2015. The arts thrive in Granbury. The nonprofit Granbury Arts Alliance joined the Historic Granbury Merchants Association in producing the Harvest Moon Festival of the Arts in 2014, which showcased 42 fine artists and craftsmen, as well as a vendor marketplace. Monthly art exhibits enable professional artists to reach a wide audience. The historic Shanley House Center for the Arts is home to the Lake Granbury Art Association. For decades, the historic Granbury Opera House – restored to perfection in 2013 – has drawn visitors and residents to its Broadwaystyle musicals. And the Brazos Drive-in, just down Pearl Street from the square, has been packing them in under the stars since 1952. One of the rare drive-ins that remain of some 450 that once graced the state, the beloved theater now boasts state-of-the-art digital projection equipment, enticing a new generation of devotees. Minutes Away, a World Apart The Courthouse clock tower was nearly removed in 1969 after storm damage; resident Norma Watkins led the fight for restoration that triggered Granbury’s renowned heritage tourism. The Granbury Courthouse Square has long enticed thousands to visit. Each year, hundreds opt to stay, drawn by the allure of small town living with big amenities, mere minutes from the Dallas- Fort Worth Metroplex. “Granbury sells itself. We have so many incredible businesses, shops, and restaurants here,” says Graham. “You don’t have to go into the city. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.” For those accustomed to the austere landscape of the Metroplex, Hood County’s scenic beauty is a draw. “The terrain is reminiscent of the Texas Hill Country with rolling hills, ancient oak and towering native Pecan trees,” says Joy Paris, a longtime Realtor in the area. Housing options dazzle. “Lakefront properties, charming bungalows in the historic district, gated golf communities, sprawling ranches — we have it all,” declares Kay Bailey, former president of the Granbury Association of Realtors. Imagine flying home to a backyard hangar at Pecan Plantation’s own aviator subdivision, complete with a 3,500- foot asphalt runway and a network of grass taxiways. The quiet but unusual neighborhood, now offering lots adjoining its newest airstrip, has a national reputation among recreational pilots as one of the country’s premier airparks. Dockside living? Unlike many area Corps of Engineers lakes, docks are allowed with shoreline properties on Lake Granbury. Golf? More than half a dozen courses dot Hood County. The average winter temperature is 50 degrees and the average summer temperature 89, with room for a lot of golf in between. Sports cars in your blood? MotorSport Ranch in Cresson bills itself as a “sports car country club” with two race tracks, a clubhouse, garages and a subdivision. A recently added wakeboard lake with cable tow system amplifies the thrills that attract thousands to the ranch. The longest river in Texas, the Brazos, flows through the heart of Granbury and Hood County. Legend tells of Spanish explorers who disembarked ships at Texas’ gulf shores before the Americas were colonized and ventured northward into parched and inhospitable land. Desperate for water, the Spaniards were led to a stream by Indians. The explorers named the source of their salvation Rio de los Brazos de Dios, or “River of the Arms of God.” Hood County’s vibrant story — from dinosaurs to Spanish explorers to Wild West outlaws — has evolved to a fresh chapter. New generations face the county’s bright future, yet embrace its colorful past. Granbury, the jewel of the Brazos, merges its tapestry of arts, recreation, scenic beauty and commerce into the warp and weft of its rich history. And each year, thousands of visitors and newcomers come to explore the land, the lake and the community that grew from the River of the Arms of God.

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