The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Festival Institute, Roundtop, TX

On our way down to La Grange, we saw a sign saying Festival Institute so we turned onto the road and found a real treasure.  The Round Top Festival Institute, featuring the 200 acre Festival Hill campus, is a world-class, classical music venue in the middle of Fayette County.  Festival Hill Campus Map
James (Jimmy) Dick, a University of Texas graduate, Fulbright Fellow and internationally acclaimed concert pianist, found the institute in 1971.  At 26 years old, he envisioned and achieved a place where gifted young musicians could study with the best teachers in an inspiring environment.

Festival Concert Hall, the primary venue for music, was built by master woodworkers over a period of years as money became available.  Although the hall has been drawing students and music lovers for more than 40 years, it is just now achieving Dick's grand European vision of a composition in wood.  It is an ornate wooden concert hall with near-perfect acoustics.  We were lucky enough to meet Larry Birklebach, the construction foreman who has been working on the hall for 35 years.  He showed us the hall and explained about how everything has been handcrafted on site and it was built until it sounded just right.

All of the wooden pieces you see on the ceiling were handcrafted on site as were the chandeliers.

This beautiful decorative piece is actually wood not marble.

The outside back of the hall is still a work in progress as are portions of the interior.

And that is not all there is to see.  Just beyond the hall is the Edythe Bates Old Chapel which was built in La Grange in 1883 as the Episcopal Methodist Church of La Grange. The congregation of the Travis Street United Methodist Church used the sanctuary for worship until it was sold to the Festival-Institute in 1994. Moving the structure to Festival Hill took from January through April of 1994. The sanctuary was extensively restored and is now used as a venue for chamber music rehearsals and concerts, organ recitals and as a lecture hall, for the Round Top Festival Institute educational programs.

There were lovely fountains all around the grounds.

There is a huge patio area at the back of the church which is used for many gatherings.

This little grotto was tucked away near the water fall.  The ceiling is covered with shells.

As you can see from the Festival Hill Campus Map, there are many other structures on the property.  The Menke House, built in 1902, was moved to Festival Hill from Hempstead and renovated as a faculty residence and conference center in 1979. Its Gothic Revival ceilings, wood workings and staircases make it a showcase of Texas carpentry.

Martha and Pat are in front of the "Roman Ruins" at the Menke house.

Birdie is taking photos of one of the many gardens around the property.  Even in November they were beautiful.

At the back of the property is the Pharmacy Garden.  It is laid out in separate areas with plants grouped by their natural location such as Africa, Mediterranean, etc.

These are castor beans.  Remember castor oil?

There were also many walking paths with statues and bridges.

There is so much to be seen here that this just touches the surface.  There are concerts and events all year long, truly a unique place.


  1. Absolutely the craftsmanship of the concert hall.

  2. Great pictures..yes, love the craftsmanship of that concert hall...just wish I was there too !

    God Bless and Enjoy and Tell All :)

    Zeee and Critters 3


Thanks for commenting.