With the cutting of a ribbon on May 22, 2021, in front of the newly restored Marion County Courthouse in Jefferson, pomp and circumstance—and the optimism that accompanies such occasions—came full circle. The ribbon-cutter was Marcia Thomas, great-granddaughter of a commissioner, George Washington Brown, who had been present at the courthouse’s original construction in 1913. Almost 110 years after it was built, dozens of guests and dignitaries looked on to celebrate the full restoration of the stately Greek Revival structure.
The path to restoration was long. The building opened its doors to the public after completion of a three-year construction project. The downtown landmark was restored with assistance of a $362,816 planning grant in 2010 and a $4.7 million construction grant in 2018, both awarded by the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. Those were combined with over $1.2 million of county funding authorized by the Commissioners Court, which began saving money for the project about 20 years ago.
Major champions of the project were former County Judges Phil Parker and Lex Jones, as well as current County Judge Leward LaFleur—they were joined by former County Judge Gene Terry for the rededication. LaFleur conducted the ceremony, with remarks given by THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe and Karl Komatsu of Komatsu Architecture, which provided restoration project design and construction administration services. Tours of the restored building followed the ceremony, while members of the Jessie Allen Wise Garden Club provided light refreshments in the grand hallway.
To return it to its former glory, anything not original to the 1913 courthouse was removed, and some modern improvements such as LED lighting and air conditioning were installed. Fortunately, most of the original exterior building materials had been retained or previously restored, including the windows that were rehabilitated with a 2012 emergency grant in the amount of $216,390. Most of the original interior building fabric remained intact under layers of materials installed during a 1973 renovation. The restoration project reversed the 1973 renovation efforts that were in serious disrepair and obscured the view of the original building materials. Changes were also made to upgrade site drainage, building access, fire protection, and plumbing systems, in addition to other improvements necessary to meet current building codes.
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