Faith Bybee was one of the forces behind Emma Lee Turney’s Original Round Top Antiques Fair. Bybee, along with Ima Hogg and Hazel Ledbetter, encouraged Turney to stage the first antiques show in October 1968. Bybee’s interest in the area’s arts, artifacts and buildings also prompted her and her husband to form the Texas Pioneer Arts Foundation, which until 2015, owned a block within Round Top’s city limits called Bybee Square.
Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Bybee Square. See ad in the Summer 2017 issue of the Round Top Register.
In 2015, Bobby and Ann Rauch acquired Bybee Square from the Foundation, overseen by Barry Moore and Steve and Jacquelyn Ditsler. Though ownership has transferred, the block and its historic and period-appropriate buildings, such as the original brewery, and others that had been relocated by Bybee, continue to serve as a retail, dining and business center. The Rauches, like the Bybees before them, split their time between Houston and Round Top.
Bybee Square at Round Top Today
The city block, bounded by Mill, Austin, Live Oak and von Rosenburg streets, hosts eight businesses among its buildings. Cowgirl Junkys, MimiBella Fine Linenwear, The Gallery at Round Top, Comforts, Pure West/Pure Vintage, Sandy Reed Country Properties, Bistro Napoletana and Wild Women Wise Women all call Bybee Square home.
208 East Mill Street
Owned by Helen Roberts, Cowgirl Junkys is an antiques/vintage store at the corner of Mill and von Rosenburg is noted for its candied jalapenos and handmade belt buckles. Helen is an original tenant. Her building is one of the oldest on the block. Native to the community, Helen offers historical insight and Festival Hill information.
Mimi Bella Fine Linenwear
207 East Austin Street
Mimi Bella Fine Linenwear opened the doors within a former Round Top home in 2011. The business originated in 2008 in Bellville. Today, Mimi Bella offers linen clothing, jewelry, leather goods, gifts, bedding, cards and candles at both its locations and via its website.
Pure West/Pure Vintage
105 South Live Oak Street
Pure West by Cheryl Long operates Pure West/Pure Vintage in a tiny cottage offering romantic apparel such as custom wedding apparel and antique fabrics, and home accessories. In business for 31 years, Cheryl Long has a wholesale company based on her mixed media art and photos documenting the West.
The Gallery at Round Top & Comforts
203 & 201 East Austin Street
Another original business to Bybee Square, The Gallery at Round Top and Comforts are owned by husband-wife duo Ken Muenzenmayer and Karen Vernon. The gallery offers fine art: paintings, sculptures, and original crafts. Comforts also offers art as well as unique gifts, Round Top Naturally handmade soaps, and other Round Top specialty items.
204 East Mill Street
Operating hours: Wednesday-Saturday 11am-9pm, Sunday 10am- 9pm
Bistro Napoletana is housed in an 1873 stone building complete with a cellar that originally served as a brewery. The restaurant, which will celebrate two years in Round Top in the fall, offers eclectic food, wood-fired pizza, craft beer, exclusive wine, and weekly specials. Some evenings live music is available on the patio.
Sandy Reed Country Properties
202 East Mill Street
Sandy Reed and Pam Langford have 45 years of combined real estate experience. Sandy Reed Country Properties, formed in 2014 as a real estate brokerage service, has been a Bybee tenant for almost two years. The office building is original to the square previously servicing as a store and beer joint dating to the early 1900s.
Wild Women Wise Women
206 East Mill Street
Wild Women Wise Women boutique offers casual women’s clothing, fabric and leather totes, and soft home goods. In business on Bybee Square in Round Top since 2010, Paritosho Banik also offers Somerset Lavender’s full line of lavender body care and culinary products.
Bybee Square at Round Top Historical Notes
The Gallery at Round Top is housed in a building constructed at The University of Houston as a project exploring single-wall construction barns. It was disassembled and moved to the Bybee Farm, then reassembled and used as a tool barn for decades. It was moved to Bybee Square to be used as a business. The floors are repurposed from an 1800s hotel in Meridian, Mississippi. Comforts is housed in what is known as the Ima Hogg House—even though it predates her birth by several decades. The two-story house plus basement was built in 1856. It was Miss Hogg’s country home where she came from Houston, seeking the cool breeze that blows over the hill and through Round Top.
Wild Women Wise Women’s building features locally milled cedar walls, floor and ceiling.The wood frame home was moved in the 1970s to Henkel Square by Faith Bybee, as part of a pioneer village. It was the Texas Pioneer Arts Museum office for many years. Jacquelyn Ditsler supervised moving the house across the street to Bybee Square and created the Bybee Square shopping village.