Words by Ashlee Myers
Photography provided by GreenFox Marketing Solutions
Granbury, Texas. A town rich with deep Texas history, small-town culture and a thriving community of folks – has inevitably seen tremendous growth over the years due to it’s almost inexplicable draw.
While some things in Granbury seemingly never change – like the flow of the Brazos river, the spirit of the Granbury Pirates, a sunset on Lake Granbury or the sight of the Historic Granbury Square during Christmas; parts of the many puzzle pieces that make up Granbury have changed over time.
As a Granbury local, I’ve watched this small town I’m proud to call home not just change, but continue to write its own story. I watched Granbury go from having one restaurant to dozens – and that’s just on Highway 377 alone. I witnessed the community swell with pride as Granbury local, Dana Vollmer, swam her way to a new World Record at the 2012 London Olympics in the 100 meter Butterfly. I’ve seen the community come together after a tornado ripped through a Granbury subdivision, leaving a close friend’s house as a patch of concrete. I’ve been a part of the school district that has received countless recognition, giving students endless possibilities for growth and personal success. I watched Leta Andrews’ Lady Pirate Basketball Team score the basket that made her the Winningest Coach in High School Basketball.
Most people know Granbury as “that small town about 30 minutes south of Fort Worth.” While that is true, and I’m guilty of saying it too, Granbury is quickly becoming a desirable, recognized outskirt of the DFW Metroplex. Both families and retirees alike are flocking to Granbury for the desirable small-town-feel, escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city to the peaceful sight of Lake Granbury.
In the past ten years, the population inside the 437 square miles of Hood County has grown tremendously. According to the Texas Department of Health and Human Services, the population of Hood County in 2008 was 50,688. Now, it is 59,300. I think the credit is due to Granbury’s character, but also the wealth of opportunities, development and expansion in the area.
According to the Granbury Chamber of Commerce, the Hood County unemployment rate was 3.8% in 2014, significantly lower than the state average, 5.1%, and United States average, 7.9%. Per capita income in the area is also higher than the Texas average. Let’s face it, life tends to be pretty good in Granbury.
Granbury ISD is the city’s top employer, with the City of Granbury coming in a close second. GISD is at the forefront of public education opportunities for staff and students with the launch of their new, innovative high school campus and the Career and Technology Education program. Courses such as Business, Finance, Health Science, Law and Engineering are taught at the high school, including several opportunities for students to earn college credit and certifications prior to earning their high school diploma.
The Granbury Independent School District has become a District of Innovation. Through these innovative CTE programs, students are racing Formula 1 race cars, building airplanes, creating fine cuisine at an on-campus bistro, writing robotic code, and so much more.
GHS students have received nearly $24 million in scholarship awards, and in the 2016-2017 school year alone, students completed 2,051 hours of college credit.
As Granbury students graduate and more families make the move the Granbury, the local job market has grown, too, closing the gap between opportunity and cost of living. Historically, a large percentage of the residents in Granbury don’t work in Hood County, they commute to the Metroplex. As more companies move here, it seems that statistic is changing.
Like a beacon, the Hood County Courthouse building has always been a picturesque icon of Granbury, Texas. The historic clocktower can be seen from across Lake Granbury, or way down Highway 377. Being the first county courthouse to land a spot on the National Registry of Historic Squares, the history runs deep here, in every structure and landmark around the Square.
The French Empire Limestone building was erected in 1890, and in 1968, a tornado ripped through Granbury, severely damaging the roof and tower. Most say these preservation efforts to fix the Courthouse in the sixties is why Granbury still works tirelessly to accurately preserve the historic Granbury square to this day.
In 2007, Hood County was awarded a Round 5 Construction Grant that contributed nearly $5 million to the preservation project under former County Judge Andy Rash, and it was completed under County Judge Darryl Cockerham in November 2011.
The Historic Granbury Square remains the hub of entertainment, dining, fine arts and community events. Even older than the Hood County Courthouse, the 1886 Granbury Opera House underwent a $3.5 million renovation in 2012. This renovation turned the magnificent building into a state-of-the-art facility. The Granbury Theatre Company continues to perform hit after hit plays and musicals on this iconic stage, attracting both visitors and locals to Granbury.
Alongside building renovations, in the fall of 2017, the Square Renovation project was officially completed. This project was designed to widen the sidewalks, add lighting and create more parking for square visitors, while keeping the historic elements of the downtown Square present. With this change, the Historic Granbury Square saw a record number of attendees for the “A Country Christmas Parade of Lights,” and also implemented “Granbury After Dark,” a partnership with the Granbury Opera House and the New Granbury Live with bars and restaurants on the Square to stay open later on Friday and Saturday nights.
As a young girl, I remember seeing the Granbury Firework Show over Lake Granbury from the old Kroger parking lot, only complete with a sno-cone from a local stand readily available for the Fourth of July festivities. How special it was to celebrate our nation’s birthday in our little town with a nationally recognized firework show put on by the Chamber of Commerce, over Lake Granbury. Each year, the Granbury Chamber’s Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration continues to attract more visitors to the Granbury area, and bring out more locals as well. Without a doubt, it’s at this event in particular that I feel closest to the community I grew up in.
The Granbury Wine Walk held each April has made milestones in Granbury for both its philanthropic and economic impact. Starting just nine years ago, this event held on the Historic Granbury Square now brings more visitors than locals, promotes shopping local and has also donated tens of thousands of dollars to various Hood County charities. Strolling through downtown Granbury, enjoying live music, supporting a good cause all while sipping on wines from all over Texas? I don’t think it gets much better than that.
That being said, I’ve seen a part of what makes Granbury so special both slowly disappear, and then rapidly come back to life – Lake Granbury.
In 2014, the iconic Lake Granbury dropped to its historically record low level of 681.47 msl, or about 11 feet below the top of the conservation pool. As many recall this horrible drought a few years back, many locals and tourists alike felt as though one of the puzzle pieces in Granbury was missing. Lake Granbury holds many memories for both.
While the cause of this historic level was both naturally occurring and man-made, the reservoir would have been lower without the release of water stored in Possum Kingdom Lake. We were reminded that Lake Granbury plays an integral role in the state’s Water Plan, and the Brazos River Authority works tirelessly to maintain this.
Back and better than ever, Lake Granbury is reigniting everyone’s summer dreams and continues to improve our quality of life. For me, Lake Granbury brings back memories of catching air on a tube from my friend’s brother doing everything he can to throw us off. I remember pulling up the jet skis to Irby’s and Stumpy’s to catch a break from the sun and also dive into a fresh-battered catfish fillet.
I also think back on the first memory of my sister and I running our toes through the fresh sands of City Beach Park – unlike anything we have ever seen in our hometown, and just a short walk from the Historic Granbury Square. Built already ten years ago, this free beach maintained by the City had sands brought by South Padre Island for the first few years. When you need to beat the heat in Granbury, head to the City Beach Park to find locals and tourists playing in the soft sands, paddle boarding, kayaking, or enjoying the cool waves brought by passing boats.
These are just some of the many significant stories and pieces that have shaped Granbury the past ten years. So, I ask you to reflect on your ten years in review in Granbury. And then, continue to be a part of the growth and change, and take part in the story.
50,688 2008 pop https://www.dshs.texas.gov/chs/popdat/ST2008.shtm
Current pop http://www.granburychamber.com/pages/demographics