Smithville, just off State Highway 71 and ten miles southeast of Bastrop in southeastern Bastrop County, is on the original Mexican land grants given to Dr. Thomas J. Gazeley and Louis Loomis. Dr. Gazley arrived in 1827, received his grant in 1831 and settled here in 1837 following the Texas Revolution. He signed the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico and later became a judge and was elected to serve in the Republic of Texas Congress. The community that sprang up around the store was named Smithville, after another early settler, William Smith. Smith and his family owned a store in the village centered along the Colorado River, east of Gazley’s land. J.P. Jones and Frank Smith opened a store in the community in 1867, and four years later the Smithville Presbyterian Church was organized. A post office was established in on August 23, 1876, and Smithville was described in May 1879 as a thriving village.
Smithville became the first “Film-Friendly Town” in Texas and many Hollywood and Independent films have been made in and around Smithville. In 1998, Hope Floats (Video) with Sandra Bullock and in 2008, Tree of Life (Video) with Brad Pitt. The principal house used in Hope Floats is the McCollum-Chapman-Trousdale House at 201 E. Eighth & Olive Street. The 1908 home was built in the Neoclassical style. And talking a drive down Burleson Street will reveal many of the houses seen in Tree of Life. The tree-lined neighborhoods north of Main street are a historic district which has 19th to mid-20th Century homes.
Today, Smithville is a Preserve America community, with both Commercial and Residential Historic Districts, and was named a Cultural District of the Texas Commission on the Arts and a growing population interested in protecting its historic hometown atmosphere.