Historic Preservation / Governmental

Texas County Courthouses


The county courthouse lends a distinct architectural and historic character to almost every county in Texas. Celebrated as the physical and symbolic centerpiece of many city and town squares, the over 240 historic courthouses that dot the state embody a rich tapestry of architectural styles from the late-19th through early-20th centuries—from Romanesque to Neoclassical to Art Deco.

For over thirty years, FPC has been proud to contribute to restoration efforts for several notable Texas county courthouses. Our work began in 1990 with the exterior restoration of the 1896 Bexar County Courthouse on San Antonio’s vibrant Main Plaza. Designed by the celebrated Texas architect J. Reily Gordon, this striking example of the Richardson-Romanesque style was in need of significant repairs to its red sandstone walls, historic wood windows, roof, and the terra-cotta tiles on the main tower’s beehive dome.

Like the Bexar County Courthouse, the vast majority of the state’s historic county courthouses remain in active government use. Through the help of matching grants from the Texas Historic Courthouse Program, administered by the Texas Historical Commission, dozens of counties around the state have been able to carry out much-needed repairs and restorations to their historic courthouse structures since the program’s inception in 1998. Four FPC courthouse restoration projects that have benefited from this fantastic preservation initiative.

Caldwell County Courthouse

In 2000, FPC completed an extensive exterior restoration of the 1893 Caldwell County Courthouse in Lockhart—a wonderful example of Second Empire style architecture in Texas. In addition to repairs to the wood windows, masonry walls, and multiple mansard roofs, many original elements that had been lost, such as railings and ornamental metal work, were recreated based on historic photographs. Historic paint analysis allowed for the recreation of the historic polychrome paint scheme.

Complex roof repairs were also central for the restoration of the Hays County Courthouse, a Classical Revival building from 1909 in San Marcus. Hail damage and a combination of roofing materials, including copper, clay tile, and built-up roofing, created an interesting challenge for FPC’s Historic Preservation team. The copper dome was rebuilt with new reinforcement, while the statue atop the dome was restored to correct damage from water retention. Completed in 1998, this exterior restoration required special attention to the intersections of complex forms and materials.

The Maverick County Courthouse in Eagle Pass is one of the oldest standing courthouses in Texas. Since its completion in 1885, little change has been made to the historic fabric of this unique structure. During the restoration, completed by FPC in 2006, the roof was replaced and the historic clock was repaired. The exterior was returned to its historic paint colors and two south porches were reconstructed. On the interior, historic decorative finishes throughout the building were reconstructed while new MEP systems were seamlessly integrated into the existing spaces.

The historic Cameron County Courthouse in Brownsville, now known as the Dancy Building, was constructed in 1912 and operated as the center of county government until 1979. Eleven years after the completion of a 2001 exterior restoration, certain building elements began showing signs of advanced deterioration. FPC was brought in to complete an initial conditions assessment in of the wood windows, terra cotta cladding, and roof, followed by a complete set of construction documents in 2013 for the repair and restoration of these elements to safeguard the historical features of this Neoclassical landmark.

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