Lovelady was founded by investors of the Houston & Great Northern Railroad as a railway line was built through a land grant of Cyrus Lovelady, near the communities of Nevil's Prairie, Pennington, and Weldon. The U.S. Post Office opened on Nov. 8, 1872. The town soon had livery, stables, blacksmith shop, and hotels, prospering as both a marketplace and a shipping point. By 1876 a public school was held in a local log house. Lovelady was incorporated in 1927.
The Porter Place Ranch at Lovelady, founded in 1912 by V. H. "Hoyt" Porter, is the setting of many prized photographs by Porter's son-in-law, Guy Gillette, who spent many summers at the ranch with his wife, Doris Porter Gillette, and their two sons. In 2013, Andy Wilkinson of Lubbock, Texas, published through the University of Oklahoma Press a coffee-table book, A Family of the Land: The Texas Photography of Guy Gillette, a photo-account of Gillette's career. Based on pictures that Gillette took dating back to the 1940s, the volume documents ranching, family, and small-town life, including downtown activities on Saturdays: the café, drug store, barbershop, city streets, and marching band and Sunday church activities: homecoming, dinner on the ground, and Bible school.
Lovelady is located at 31°7′42″N 95°26′42″W (31.128422, -95.445035).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2), of which, 1.1 square miles (2.8 km2) of it is land and 0.88% is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 608 people, 240 households, and 175 families residing in the city. The population density was 543.9 people per square mile (209.6/km²). There were 293 housing units at an average density of 262.1/sq mi (101.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 90.95% White, 7.40% Black, 0.16% Native American, 1.15% from other races, and 0.33% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 3.12% of the population.
There were 240 households out of which 35.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.5% were married couples living together, 11.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.7% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 16.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.53 and the average family size was 3.03.
In the city, the population was spread out with 28.8% under the age of 18, 5.6% from 18 to 24, 23.5% from 25 to 44, 21.1% from 45 to 64, and 21.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $30,000, and the median income for a family was $40,000. Males had a median income of $30,341 versus $19,028 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,624. About 11.6% of families and 11.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 12.2% of those under age 18 and 15.8% of those age 65 or over.
Lovelady is perhaps best known for The Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Eastham Unit, a medium security penitentiary - housing some 2,400 inmates for various offenses. The local economy is dependent on the employment of the local workforce at the prison, which has a current staff of 718 employees.
Eastham Unit, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison for men, is located in unincorporated Houston County, near Lovelady.
The City of Lovelady is served by the Lovelady Independent School District.
Charles Rufus Rich (1857–1945) completed this building in 1906 as a combination ground floor general mercantile store and second floor residence. A native of Texas, Rich had opened his business in Lovelady in the early 1900s.
The climate in this area is characterized by hot, humid summers and generally mild to cool winters. According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Lovelady has a humid subtropical climate, abbreviated "Cfa" on climate maps.