A historic house in Downtown Round Rock is scheduled for a strategic relocation to its original site this week as the City of Round Rock prepares to renovate the former library on Main Street.
On Dec. 12, 2023, the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approved the application to relocate the Andrew J. Palm House from 212 E. Main Street to the Old Settlers Association grounds at 3300 E. Palm Valley Blvd.
As of this week, the Palm House has been moved to the edge of the property along East Main Street in anticipation of the move, which will take place in the late evening hours to avoid traffic conflicts.
The current site of the Palm House along Main Street will become a paseo, or walkway, that connects Prete Plaza and the courtyard for the recently-opened Round Rock Public Library, which is adjacent to a new 289-space parking garage. This project is included in the renovation of the 44,000-square-foot Griffith Building, which previously housed the former library and will become the home of the Round Rock Visitors Center, a two-story Arts and Culture gallery and the Round Rock Chamber.
The Palm House was built in 1873 by the Palm family, which was a central part of the Swedish immigrant community in the area that is now known as Palm Valley. The home was moved downtown from the Palm Farm in 1976, and the Palm Farm later became the Old Settlers Association grounds and Old Settlers Park. Later generations of the Palm family donated the house to the Round Rock Chamber, and it was relocated downtown in 1976 to serve as the Palm Museum with an addition to the rear of the building for Chamber operations. The Chamber added to the facility several times, including making it a two-story addition.
The original two-room home will be braced and relocated to the Old Settlers Association, and the chimney has been disassembled and will be reassembled. Its new location will be just northwest of its original location on the property. Any remaining Chamber additions will be demolished.
Several Palm Farm structures remain at the Old Settlers Association grounds, including a second home known as the Palm Mansion. Other historic structures have been moved to the grounds of the Old Settlers Association, which hosts a number of educational events with the Williamson Museum, including Pioneer Day and Midsommar. The City of Round Rock has coordinated the moving of artifacts from the Palm House to Old Settlers Association before the move.
In November, the Texas Historical Commission weighed in on the relocation, as the Palm House is a recorded Texas Historic Landmark. While the state standards generally discourage relocation of historic structures, the Commission acknowledged that, “because the Palm House has been previously moved, and because it is moving back to its original site, this move is permissible, and the building will retain its historic designation.” The City will also be required to submit restoration plans to the Commission for review after the house is stabilized at its new location, and it will also be required to add a relocation marker to the building. Restoration plans will be reviewed by both the Texas Historical Commission and the City’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Austin-based Heimsath Architects is serving as the lead architect for the move, and has developed a plan for the Palm House’s preservation and relocation to ensure historical integrity during the relocation process.