What do Hollywood stars Sandra Bullock, Harry Connick, Jr., Sean Penn, Ryan Reynolds, Brad Pitt and Jon Gries have in common? They’ve all filmed movies in Smithville, Texas—a small town of roughly 4,000 residents, located 29 miles southeast of Austin.
Smithville has plenty of sights for movie buffs. And with shopping, parks, and dining—it’s a great place to visit, even if you’ve never seen any of the movies filmed there.
The town was established by Thomas Gazeley, who in 1827 settled near the present site. Gazeley operated a store there until his death in 1853, and the community that sprang up around the store was named after another early settler, William Smith.
Hope Floats in Smithville
The 1998 film Hope Floats starred Sandra Bullock as Birdee Pruitt and Harry Connick, Jr. as Justin Matisse.
The McCollum-Chapman-Trousdale House at 201 E. Eighth St. was used as Sandra Bullock’s home in Hope Floats. This large Neoclassical-style home was built for J.H. McColllum in 1908. McCollum was the local undertaker, buggy and carriage maker, and had a large store on Main Street. In 1917, Dr. Phillip Chapman and his wife, Mamie Trousdale Chapman, purchased the home. It was inherited by his nephew Gordon Trousdale, and is now the home of his son. The house has a swimming pool in the back yard that the movie crew covered up because they didn’t want a pool in the film.
This ghost sign at the northeast corner of 2nd and Main Streets was created for Hope Floats.
Tree of Life with Brad Pitt and Sean Penn
The Tree of Life was filmed in Smithville. We were fortunate enough to meet some neighbors who walked us to the house they used for filming. The house is a different color in the film, but this is it!
Swimming Pool in Tree of Life
Someone below asked me about the filming location of the swimming pool in Tree of Life. I finally saw the movie today. The swimming pool is Barton Springs Pool in Austin.
Other Movies Filmed in Smithville
- The Dentist 2, 1998
- The Breakdance Kid, 2004
- Fireflies in the Garden, 2008
- Martha, 2008
- Artois the Goat, 2009
- Five Time Champion, 2009
You definitely can’t go wrong with the barbeque at Zimmerhanzel’s. The brisket is moist and tender, and the tasty cole slaw, potato salad and beans are home-made daily.
More Sights of Smithville
This mural in the Smithville post office was painted by WPA murialist Minnie Teichmueller in 1940. Learn more about post office murals.
The first railroad depot was built in Smithville in 1887 and burned a few years later. In 1893, the MKT completed its tracks linking Houston with Smithville. The second Smithville depot was built in 1895 at the “Y” in the tracks further west. The large Railroad YMCA building was on this site from 1899 to 1926. The Smithville Railroad Park was developed on land donated by the railroad and contains the Chamber of Commerce building, a gazebo and the Railroad Museum, a small depot moved from West Point, TX.
This large hotel building was built in 1910 by the Hill family to accommodate railroad workers and traveling salesmen. It included a 16-car garage on the first floor. On the west side of the building is a single-story cafe where Dan Rather spoke to the Lions Club in 1967. The hotel was in use until 1968.
- Smithville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Handbook of Texas Online
- Wikipedia Article on Smithville
- Texas Escapes – Smithville
- Smithville Blog – Small Town, Big Ideas