Round Top’s Best Historic Attractions: The World’s Smallest Church, a Music Wonderland and More
Where Texas' past truly comes alive.
Texas is steeped in rich history — and the greater Round Top region is full of it. Incorporated in the 1800s, Fayette County is home to many significant historical sites worth visiting. You just need to know where to look.
This is your guide to the Round Top area’s best attractions, historical sites and buildings.
A number of Round Top’s historical buildings have been preserved and many have found new life. These historic spaces are now libraries, music halls, shopping squares and more.
Let’s take a closer look.
The newly renovated Henkel Square has quickly become the center of Round Top. With restaurants, bars and stores arranged around a central green square, a number of renovated 1800s buildings have found a new purpose here.
The postcard perfect small town square has picnic tables, antique roses, a water fountain and century old oak trees. The buildings of Henkel Square include structures built by German immigrants. These former cabins and homes are now home to some of Round Top’s best shopping and dining.
Just outside of La Grange, you’ll find Monument Hill, a state park that’s home to not just one but two major historical sites.
Monument Hill serves as a memorial to those who died in the Dawson Massacre, which occurred in 1842 during the Battle of Salado Creek. It also is a memorial for the Mier Expedition, which was an unsuccessful military expedition that same year. The tall monument is impossible to miss.
The ruins of one of Texas’s first breweries are also found in the same location. Kreische Brewery was built in the 1860s and operated as one of the state’s first commercial breweries. Its ruins can be toured.
Established back when Texas was its own country, Fayette County sits on historic land. For an in-depth tour on the history of Round Top and how the town came to be, there’s no better resource than the Round Top Area Historical Society.
Docent guided tours are available for free on the second Saturday of every month from noon until 3 pm. The tour includes looks at five historical buildings, including a church and three homes.
It’s easy to forget during antique show season, but Round Top is at its core a small town (population 90) with interesting people and places. That’s why it’s no surprise to hear that Round Top is the smallest incorporated town in Texas with a full-service public library.
The town is served by an old Gothic-style Lutheran Church building that has been moved to Mill street and renovated into a fully-functioning library. With more than 13,000 books in the Round Top Family Library, there’s definitely a lot to see and read.
Besides the main library building, the historic Rummel Haus also sits on the property. The haus serves as the library’s activity center and has been beautifully restored.
The Round Top Festival Institute was founded by world-renowned pianist James Dick in 1971 and has grown into an internationally acclaimed music institute. This musical wonderland stretches over 210 acres known as Festival Hill.
With lush gardens and historical houses, plus rare books and manuscripts, this is a true music lovers’ paradise. The historical homes were brought in from all over Texas to add to the institute’s allure.
Music performances at the Festival Concert Hall are a truly unique experience. With amazing acoustics, the striking Hall is one of the Lone Star State’s top music-centered tourist attractions.
It’s no secret that Round Top is a truly small town, which makes one of its top attractions more than fitting. The World’s Smallest Catholic Church can be found right outside of downtown Round Top. The beautiful white-washed building welcomes visitors through double doors under a cross-clad roof. Just not a lot of visitors at once.
With six pews that can accommodate 20 people in total, this is a very intimate house of worship. Built in 1888, St. Martin’s is still an active church with masses once per month.
St. Martin’s has beautiful art and a breathtaking alter. On a small scale.
Located in Burton, the official Cotton Gin Museum of Texas can still be found in the same spot where a cotton gin was originally built more than a 100 years ago. You can stop by and visit the museum for free or take an educational tour of the old cotton gin and see how cotton was processed and made ready for sale.
This is a truly historic 1914 site — and worthy of a visit.
A stopping point on the Texas Independence Trail, Round Top played a major role in Texas’s storied and well-known past.
If you’ve ever wondered how Round Top got its name, the Independence Trail tells that it came to be because in the early 1800s German settler Alwin H. Soergel built a white house with a unique octagonal tower. Because of this, people started calling the area “Round Top” and the name stuck.
You can find Independence Trail information in Round Top or make an excursion of it and visit other nearby towns that are also part of the trail.
Located near Round Top in La Grange, there are two old 19th century storefronts that have been lovingly restored and turned into the Texas Quilt Museum. Picture more than 10,000 square feet dedicated to the art of quilt making.
With both antique and contemporary quilts on display the Texas Quilt Museum is the ultimate homage to an ancient (and active) art.
The Winedale Historical Complex offers a mix of 19th century buildings on 225 acres of land. This extension of the University of Austin’s Briscoe Center serves as a time capsule of sorts. At Winedale, it’s good to be stuck in the past.
This complex provides as an immersive look into what life was like in Texas in the early 19th century.
With furniture, decor and even an extensive quilt collection from the era, Winedale Historical Complex is full of treasures. One of its most popular draws is very active though — Shakespeare at Winedale.
This program teaches students about Shakespeare by putting on the Bard’s plays. This is one fun way the arts come alive in Round Top. The plays are put on in the Winedale Barn, a truly unique venue.