Downtown Belton is Home to Many, Many Texas Landmarks
How familiar are you with downtown Belton. It seems the state of Texas thinks it’s very historic judging by all of these historic markers around town.
- FUMC of Belton
The Church was founded when Bell County was created in 1850. By the 1880s the church outgrew its original location at Pearl and 1st Ave, so they put up a new structure from 1884 to 1886.
The original steeple was removed in a remodel in 1925. It’s been a Texas Historic Landmark since 1978.
- Woman's Commonwealth
Back in 1867, Martha White McWhiter had a religious vision in which she had been sanctified by God. She started to share her experience with other women in Belton and formed a small community of those women who desired to leave their unfulfilled lives as wives and mothers.
The 4 major tenets of the group included celibacy, non-denominationalism, dream interpretation, and communal living. They were incorporated as the Belton’s Woman’s Commonwealth.
Since they left their husbands, and their churches, they were forced to produce income for themselves and any children they might have abandoned.
They moved to Washington D.C. area in 1900 due to a dream. The last member, Martha Scheble, passed away in 1983 at the age of 101.
- Bell County Courthouse
This was designed in 1885. The orginal tower and dome were removed in the 1950s, but then rebuilt in 1999. It's been a recorded Texas Historic Landmark since 2000.
- William Whitaker Reed
This marker is across the street from the old jail, which seems fitting since William Whitaker Reed was the first County Sheriff. He also participated in the election of a commissioners court to organize Bell County.
- Chochran, Blair & Potts
Henry Mansfield Cook started his business in 1869 in the city of Centerville, Texas. He took on his son-in-law, Thomas W. Cochran, in 1874. They moved to Buffalo, Texas in 1876. Then, in 1883, they moved to Belton, Texas. In 1896 Cook's son, Thomas, joined the business and the name became Cook, Cochran & Company. Three years after the death of Henry Cook, Cochran's son, Harry T, and his son-in-law- Jesse S. Blair bought out Thomas Cook. The company then became T.W. Cochran and Company. T.W. passed away in 1910 and his son-in-law, Arthur H. Potts, became a partner. In 1917 the name of the store became Cochran, Blair, & Potts. The store is now run by descendants of Roy Campbell Potts.
- Early Bell County Jail
Four years after Bell County was organized, in 1854, a 2-story log structure was built to serve as a jail. It was replaced by this building in 1873.
It was a year later, in 1874, that vigilantes from all over Texas raided the jail and executed 9 men charged with murder, robbery, horse theft and other crimes.
This attack was regarded as a major factor in ending lawlessness in the county, proving that you can push people only so far until they unite and kill the bad people.
Became a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1967.
- First Baptist Church
Started with 8 charter members in 1853. After meeting in other buildings, the congregation built on the east side of Main Street, south of where they're at now. That building was burned down in 1947 and construction began on the current church, which has been enlarged to serve the growing congregation.
Texas Landmark since 1986.
- West Belton School
Bell County Schools date back to 1854. For African Americans it goes back to 1882. West Belton School, the African American High School started in 1890.
In 1936 a new building was built on this site. The name became "T.W. Harris" for it's revered former principal.
The last class graduated in 1966 as Belton schools were integrated the following year.
- Fellrath Building
This building was built between 1881 & 1891, and was part of the Smith & Peyton Hardware and Buggy Shop. Also as the Everett Grain Company. John Fellrath opened a tin and plumbing shop in 1914, and continued as the owner until his death in 1961.
It's been a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark since 1984.