Home to several Georgetown schools over the years and now serving as a home base for 100 school district employees, the Hammerlun Center for Leadership and Learning building just west of Southwestern on University Avenue has been a hub of education for nearly a century.
The historic building, at different times, housed elementary, middle, high school, and college students. The original site of Southwestern University in 1870, the property was sold to the city in 1916 and ultimately transformed into the Hammerlun Center in 2018.
What were once classrooms have been remade into offices for the superintendent, HR, payroll, athletics, communications, special education, and federal programs. The site also serves as a learning center for professional development, and a venue for community meetings and events.
Many view the building as a long-time anchor of Old Town, and its renovation honors the past while re-purposing for the future. GISD Communications Director Melinda Brasher says, “A lot has changed in 100 years. Building design in 1916 was not suited for today’s learning environment, but the bones of the building are in perfect shape. We were fortunate to own a facility like this that could be preserved for the future and re-purposed.”
Visitors may notice remnants of the past here and there, including some of the original wood floors, clay wall tiles, hardwood stage, and retrofitted light fixtures. Using the artifacts and stories they have received, staff hope to create a gallery showcasing the history of the building. “We want to honor a building that’s been here 100 years that we believe will be here for another century,” Melinda says.
Businessman, Public Servant, Friend of GISD
When it came to re-naming the building, staff knew the namesake needed to be someone who left a legacy not just in Georgetown ISD, but in Georgetown as a whole. A City Council member, GISD Education Foundation Board member, and mentor to many including Superintendent Fred Brent, Jerry Hammerlun (right) fit the bill. “He believed in developing leaders and especially adult leaders,” Melinda says. “He understood and believed in the role teachers play in the classroom to develop students. He focused his energy on developing adult leaders to grow and serve our community. When we built this campus and knew we wanted it to be home to a professional learning space for developing adult leaders for the future, it was fitting that we would name it after Jerry Hammerlun.”
Following Jerry’s death in 2018, Huckabee, Inc., the architecture firm at which he was a partner, made a donation to the Georgetown ISD Education Foundation. The vision was to develop a leadership program that embodied Jerry’s goal of helping people become good leaders. The Hammerlun Leadership Academy launched in 2021.