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History of Somervell County and Glen Rose

Around 1860 Charles and Juana Barnard built a three story stone gristmill along the Paluxy River. The town that eventually grew around the mill was called Barnard’s Mill. In 1871 T.C. Jordan, bought the mill and surrounding land from Charles Barnard. Mrs. T.C. Jordan called the area around Barnard’s Mill Rose Glen as a reminder of her native Scotland. Years later the town’s people voted to rename the town Glen Rose. The town of Glen Rose is the county seat for Somervell County. The county was formed in 1875 from about 200 square miles of land previously part of Hood County. The county name honors Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Somervell.

By 1876 the town population grew sufficiently that T.C. Jordan believed the time was ripe to build a town square. Jordan promised to build a county courthouse if some of the town’s citizens would buy property around the square.

Historic Courthouses

The first courthouse on the square was completed around 1892 and burned down in 1893. Second courthouse on the square, the present day structure, was ordered built by the commissioners’ court in 1893 and completed late in the same year for a cost of $13,500. This courthouse employed elements of the Romanesque Revival architectural style, and also featured a mansard roof treatment and ornamental iron crestings which are characteristic of the General Grant style. The courthouse was constructed of locally queried limestone.

In 1902 a tornado damaged this courthouse and many other buildings on the town square. The courthouse roof and clock tower were severely damaged. At that time, the small rural county didn’t have the financial resources to properly repair the roof or replace the clock tower. A modest roof repair was made by local craftsmen which omitted the clock and some of the ornate details of the original roof.

In 1986 the Somervell County Commissioners’ Court voted to restore the county courthouse. The work was completed by Ray J. Miller Construction Company of Meridian under the direction of architects Huckabee and Donham of Stephenville, Texas. Final cost of restoring the building was $601,111.20. Today, the courthouse building is occupied by the Somervell County Historical Commission and serves as an information center

Town Square

The courthouse square, much like the courthouse building, is modest in size. The two most notable buildings on the square are the First National Bank Building and the Campbell Building.

The square has been a popular gathering place for Somervell residents since the late 1880’s. Back before cars and grocery stores, farmers would bring stock animals and other goods to the square to sell. That tradition is still alive and well today. Local farmers continue to bring fresh fruits, vegetables, and other items to the town square for sale. They set up on the west side of the square where there are benches and plenty of shade provided by old pecan trees. Glen Rose town square is a good place to stop and stretch. There are shops and restaurants and plenty of things to see.

Also on the square is the First National Bank Building. A limestone structure built in 1896 by A. P. Humphreys, it first served as a saloon. Upstairs hall hosted dances, socials, and stage shows. Building’s second purpose was as the First National Bank building, est. 1902. In 1917 the bank was the scene of a robbery and the shooting of a bandit. Today this building houses the Somervell County Heritage Center.

Barnard’s Mill

Early Texas gristmill, constructed in 1860 by Charles Barnard, is a block off the historic town square. The first permanent structure in this area, the original mill was a three story building constructed of stone and built like a fort to withstand Indian attacks. For years, town social events were held on the third floor. A cotton gin annex was added in 1895. In the 1940’s a one-story hospital wing was built and a second story added to the existing cotton gin annex. These buildings served as a hospital from 1943 to 1971. Today, the three story mill building and cotton gin annex are open for tours. The hospital wing added in the 1940’s today houses the Barnard’s Mill Art Museum. Ask for details at the courthouse. Admission free.

Glen Rose has several other attractions. The Promise, an epic Musical drama of the life of Christ. Dinosaur Valley State Park, one of the most popular parks in the state of Texas. The Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, The Creation Evidence Museum, and there are a few others.


Corner Elm and Barnard Streets
Glen Rose Texas, 76043

County: Somervell

Bibliographic note:
Leach, Dorothy, The Story of The Somervell County Courthouse. Somervell: Somervell Historical Commission, 1987.
Texas Historical Commission, Texas Historic Sites Atlas.

Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
All rights reserved