GONE WITH THE “WEND”
Giddings, a Texas Brazos Trail Region community established in 1871, constructed main thoroughfares of up to one hundred feet in width and side streets eighty feet wide in its initial layout of the official townsite, both distinguishing characteristics for a community built during the period. Its founding residents were distinct as well. Wends, an ethnic people of conservative Lutheran faith, arrived here from Germanic Saxony and Prussia, escaping persecution in their homeland. Giddings is also the seat of Lee County and its Romanesque courthouse, designed by J. Riely Gordon in 1898 and built the following year, dominates its surrounding residential neighbor. A limestone base anchors the three-story red brick building and its tall, square brick clock tower and ornamentation, including blue granite steps and polished columns, help emphasize the courthouse as focal point of the community. This terrific example of a 19th century Texas courthouse received a National Register listing as well as a complete restoration courtesy of the County and the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. Elsewhere in Giddings, the Lee County Heritage Center, housed in the 1879 Schubert-Fletcher Greek Revival home displays artifacts of local and regional history. Down the road, the Wendish Heritage Museum recounts the history of some of Giddings first residents. The Wends, however, dispersed and intermarried early on in Giddings history. Their artifacts survive but their language is nearly extinct.