Round Top, Texas
The sleepy town born from land grants, German immigrants and Houston philanthropy.
Named for a domed roof of a large white house that was visible for miles, Round Top, Texas was first settled by American pioneers moving westward in the 1830’s, and then by an influx of German immigrants in the 1850’s. The influence of these German settlers is evident in the simple oak log houses with large front porches and the surviving cabinetry and furniture made by German artisans.
Mrs. Hazel Ledbetter was one of the first Houstonians to “discover” Round Top in the early 1960’s. She was responsible for restoring a row of three stores located across from Henkel Square. She eventually sold much of her properties to her friend and Houston philanthropist and early Texas preservationist, Ima Hogg. Mrs. Hogg continued the restoration of Round Top buildings and later gave all of her Round Top properties to the University of Texas in 1967.
Faith Bybee of Houston and her husband, Charles, began meticulous and authentic restoration of many of the area’s historic structures in the ‘60s and moved them to the main town square to create Henkel Square, named for German immigrant Edward Henkel who began farming in Round Top in 1848 and became Round Top’s first mayor. Today, Henkel Square features 12 of the buildings restored and furnished by Mrs. Bybee. The couple also established the Texas Pioneer Arts Foundation in Round Top in 1967 to oversee the collection of furnishings and the restoration of houses in the area.
In 1974, Mrs. Bybee was awarded Coral Horton Tullis Memorial Prize for Best Book on Texas History for her writing, “The Henkel Square Historical Restoration Project.”
Round Top Today
Today, Round Top is known the world over as the destination for antiques and collectibles and as the sought-after retreat for urbanites from Houston and Austin. Twice a year, Round Top and surrounding towns are transformed as throngs of collectors from around the world converge in Round Top to find that “perfect piece.” Round Top also plays host to visitors attending the annual Shakespeare at Winedale festival and the Fayetteville Music Festival.
Round Top is also home to Festival Hill, a 210-acre campus with performance facilities, historic houses, extensive gardens, parks and nature preserves. Owned by the Round Top Festival Institute, Festival Hill contains a collection of rare books, manuscripts, archival material, music and historic recordings, photographs and objects, making the Institute a world-renowned center for research and scholarly study.
Wineries, breweries, orchards and world-class restaurants also attract visitors to the area.
Hackberry Hill Farm
The Magical Round Top Retreat
Like most properties in Round Top, Hackberry Hill Farm has a long history peppered with numerous eclectic owners who preserved this gem from the ante-bellum era.
The area now known as Hackberry Hill Farm was started by John Shaw in 1831 with a government land grant. It operated as a working farm for decades thereafter. In 1967, the property was purchased by Mr. and Mrs. Harvin Moore of Houston, who named it for the 32-foot rock cap on which the main house stood and the many hackberry trees that dotted the landscape.
An architect by trade, Mr. Moore began by making the structures on the property livable, then set about restoring them. The main house, built around 1850, was a classic example of a technique called “fechwork,” which combines timber and stone to create the walls. Connected to the main house was a frame home moved to the property from nearby Walhalla. After renovating the main house, the couple purchased a one-room log house in Schulenburg and moved it to the property. The original stone pathway and water well are all that remain of the main house.
In 2009, Hackberry Hill was renamed “Hackberry Hill Farm” and underwent two years of extensive preservation and renovation. Hundreds of oak trees were added to the landscape and over 3-tons of reclaimed Hill Country barn wood, antique bead board flooring and Colorado Aspen timbers were incorporated into the remodeling of the buildings on the property. Each of the unique structures on the property also feature antiques and fine art from around the world.
Hackberry Hill Farm is now open to guests for corporate meetings and retreats, family reunions, weddings and parties.