History

Grace Church was originally located on the west side of Main Street just off the square.
The cornerstone of the 'little white church" was laid on November 16, 1881.
In 1955, Grace moved to University Ave, the current Central Campus. 

A Brief History of Grace

Grace Episcopal Church Georgetown was established in 1848, and in 1865 Bishop Gregg, first bishop of the Diocese of Texas came to Georgetown with the assistance of the Rev. B. A. Rogers, rector of St. David’s Austin, to hold services for a small group of Episcopalians and friends in a home, or possibly the County Courthouse, as there was no church building at this time.

In 1879 the Diocesan Council recognized the group as the Georgetown Mission.  The congregation adopted the articles of association in April 1881 with 38 people signing the minutes, and in ten days were admitted as a parish.  By November 16, 1881, property downtown had been purchased, a cornerstone laid, and money raised to build a church.   In the words of a contemporary, “For

many months the lady communicants, few in number but noble in spirit…have toiled most unremittingly to raise money to build a church.” The first service was conducted in Grace Church by the new Rector, the Reverend J. E. Meredith.  The wooden church was Carpenter Gothic with a Norman-style tower, and a choir loft contained the organ and the choir.  The original cost of building and contents was $2,186.  Grace Church was the third church to be built in Georgetown.

Time went on and the depression hit our country, the number of members fluctuated, but still “the little wooden church” hung on with determination.  At some point Grace Church and at least four other struggling parishes were changed to mission status.

               

Then, in 1954, Bishop John Hines helped Grace Church by purchasing land, and moving the wooden church to its location on University Ave.  The adjoining property, which including a Dutch Colonial house, was purchased for a Parish House, and christened the Canterbury House, as Canterbury (the Southwestern University Episcopal Chaplaincy) met there as well.

               

In 1955 Bishop Hines arrived for the for the laying of the cornerstone of the new church site.  Many different items in the cornerstone box are now on display in our library in the new stone church.    A gift from Bishop Hines of a brass, English Williamsburg set of six sconces and a chandelier was presented at this time.  (Check out and enjoy the book by Eb Carl Girvin of A History of Grace Episcopal  1868 - 1981.)

               

The Rev. J. T. “J” Raper, vicar, conducted “Celebration 81,” a 100 year anniversary celebration with Bishop Maurice M. Benitez.  We were reminded of God’s goodness when Rev. Raper said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God  who gives the growth… For we are fellow workmen for God.  (1 Cor. 3:6, RSV).  

               

The Rev. Romilly “Cotton” Timmins became our vicar and later rector, and over time, found that our wooden church could no longer contain our growing congregation.  Thus plans were made to build a new and larger stone church on the same property.  Over the Rev. Timmins’ tenure, the Canterbury House was sold and moved, the little wooden church was donated to the city of Georgetown to be used as a heritage Center, the new stone church was built, two educational wings were completed, a Mother’s Day Out program began and later evolved into a preschool, a school board was established, and Grace Church happily became a parish again in 2002.  Upon his retirement, the Rev. Timmins donated about 1,500 of his books to establish a library.  The library was named in his honor and now stands as the The Rev. Romilly Timmins Library.

               

Construction of the Parish Hall began early in 2004.  In February 2009, the Vestry approved plans to build a Columbarium and Memorial Garden.  That same year Grace West, a satellite church in the northwest part of Georgetown, was established to accommodate our growing congregation.

               

Grace church received a wonderful gift of a Schlicker pipe organ on March 27, 2014, from our organist at that time, Dr. Don McManus.  Grace members and friends came to a special service of Organ Dedication & Holy Eucharist in the afternoon, and then the inaugural concert.  Dr. McManus named the instrument “Ettsie’s organ” in honor of his mother.

Our congregation joyfully welcomed our new rector, The Rev. Albert C. “Bertie” Pearson and his family on July 31, 2016.

 

— Carolyn Sweet, Grace Church Historian