Texas courthouses are among the most widely recognized, used, and appreciated assets in our communities. With some courthouses dating from as far back as the mid-19th century, they were among the first permanent structures in many counties. With their brick and stone towers, ornate cupolas, and soaring domes, they represent an impressive collection of public architecture. Not surprisingly, Texas has more historic courthouses than any other state—242 are still in active government use. With decades or even centuries of use, most of these structures have significantly deteriorated due to inadequate maintenance, insensitive modifications, or weather-related damage.
The Texas Historical Commission's (THC) nationally recognized and award-winning Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP) has turned around the trend of disrepair and begun restoring these treasured historic landmarks. To date, the program has funded 74 Texas courthouse restorations, another 29 courthouses have undertaken emergency or planning work with grant funds, and 25 grants were awarded to update approved preservation Master Plans.
Major Films Featuring a Texas Courthouse
Stewardship Award Presented to Lamar County
The 2022 Texas Courthouse Stewardship Award—designed to recognize counties that have established good stewardship practice to maintain their courthouses in restored condition—was presented to the Lamar County Courthouse, one of the first counties to participate in the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program upon its creation in 1999, receiving a Planning Grant in 2000 and a Construction Grant to fully restore its courthouse in 2002.
The Lamar County Courthouse was completed in 1917, following the Paris fire that destroyed the former 1897 courthouse and most of the historic downtown. The granite masonry and foundation of the former 1897 courthouse survived the fire and was repurposed to construct the existing building. You can see elements from the original courthouse in the 1917 building, such as the Romanesque arches from the corner entries reintroduced as a triple-arched entry for the newer building. The courthouse was rededicated in the Fall of 2005.
As part of the grant funded restoration, Lamar County reconstructed its original wood, butterfly casement windows, opened the courtroom to its double height and restored its original ornamental painting throughout the building and the District Courtroom. Since the grant-funded restoration, the courthouse has been conscientiously maintained. The county has installed a new mechanical system, managed jury room acoustics with a follow-up grant from the THC and installed a new roof, which was not replaced as part of the 2002 restoration.
Lamar County Judge Brandon Bell considers his county’s Facility Director, Kerry Washington, to be a significant asset to the ongoing preservation of the historic courthouse and the support of the commissioners’ court and its funding for ongoing maintenance has been critical to preserving the building.
Round XII Grant Cycle
The 87th Texas Legislature has allocated $25 million for the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP) for the FY 2022-23 biennium. Round XII funding offers an opportunity for THCPP program participants to restore the historic integrity of these cherished symbols of local government while upgrading the buildings to meet modern requirements. The program may award construction grants for full restoration and rehabilitation, planning grants for developing architectural construction documents, and emergency grants to repair or prevent catastrophic damage.
The full application, application guide, and cycle schedule is available .
Completed applications will be due 5 p.m., May 13, 2022.
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