1939 Comanche County Courthouse|
Photo courtey Terry
of Texas, Comanche County has had several courthouses and two of them remain on
the square in Comanche.
The current Art Deco structure was designed by the late Wyatt Hendrick of Fort
Worth whose architectural achievements receive recognition even today. The
three-story building, begun in 1939 and dedicated in the fall of 1941, was built
with very substantial W.P.A. funding plus local bond money. Its external appearance
remains little changed aside from a few additions to meet A.D.A. requirements.
Limestone from a local quarry was used and some material from the razed
1891 courthouse went into interior walls. The heroic-sized cut stone eagles
that accent the north and south entrances were made on site by the late Elmer
Webb, a Comanche stone cutter.
Cora" - First Comanche County courthouse|
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/
little log structure that served Comanche County at Cora,
its original county seat, is on the southwest
corner of the square. It has been on five different sites between 1856 and
1983. The west room reputedly was Comanche's courthouse between 1856 and 1858.
Later the one room was moved and placed with another log structure to become a
double pen cabin with its typical dog trot center hall. For many years this building,
used as a residence, was on a knoll beside the road slightly removed from the
old Cora town site and overlooked the Leon River.
Local citizens raised funds in 1938 to move the building to a
new location about four miles south of Comanche.
There it overlooked Lake Eanes, the city-owned water supply with its adjoining
park. Deterioration set in as years passed. About 1961, Burks Museum in Comanche
received permission to move the building to their private museum grounds and repair
it. As Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Burks aged, the privately owned museum was sold. The
Comanche Historical Commission wrestled possession of Cora
out of the sale transactions and relocated it to the square. Under the auspices
of the Old Cora Commission restoration work was completed during 1984 with an
marker for Cora dedicated in 1986 public ceremonies as a Texas Sesquicentennial
event. New, serious, very substantial restoration efforts continue in 2002-2003
involving a grant from the Texas Department of Transportation with other funding
still needed. The plans afoot include extensive changes to the entire south
side of Comanche's
County has had five different courthouses. Briefly listed they are the log
cabin at Cora and a picket construction log
courthouse built at Comanche about 1859. This cabin built of logs set upright
in a trench and placed tightly together "burned on the night of March 15, 1862"
according to Commissioners Court minutes.
the county had no formal edifice until it commissioned a two story structure built
by the new contracting firm of Martin, Byrne, & Johnston and completed in 1876.
This building, set in the middle of the square with a north and south orientation,
was of locally made red brick with cut stone trim. It served until the close of
Comanche County Courthouse|
1859, after the move from Cora to Comanche, the county conducted its business
in a one-room building made of pickets, logs placed side by side vertically in
a trench. This type of building, used for forts and other utilitarian structures
across the South from 1770 to 1860, was not intended to last, and its destruction
by fire on March 20, 1862, was noted without comment in the minutes of the Comanche
County Court. The county rented Silas Pickett’s building and made plans to build
a two-story structure fifty feet square “of hewn stone and good plank.” |
years passed before the construction of the courthouse was begun by William Martin,
D. C. Byrne and J. J. Porter. The new courthouse, completed in 1875, was a remarkable
post-war example of the persistence after 1865 of a building type fashionable
across the South in the 1820s. The segmental window bands in the first story and
the brackets under the eaves were distinctive signs of the seventies, but apart
from these details the Courthouse of 1875 was the hip-roofed, two-story building
with belfry and symmetrically placed windows that was built in Virginia, Georgia
and Tennessee in the age of Jefferson." - Photo and information from the
Old Cora Interpretive Exhibit : Comanche County 1986 Sesquicentennial Committee.
Comanche County Courthouse|
1890, the brick building of 1875
was too small, too old-fashioned, for the growing town of Comanche, and the Austin
architectural firm of Larmour & Watson was employed to design a new building.
The three-story stone courthouse, designed in an elegant combination of Second
Empire and Renaissance Revival styles, was a fitting symbol of Comanche County
at the height of its successes in agriculture and later in oil and peanuts."
- Photo and information from the Old Cora Interpretive Exhibit : Comanche County
1986 Sesquicentennial Committee |
"This impressive three story building with its tower, striking clock, and
clear-sighted Statue of Justice was a landmark between 1891 and 1939" Razed
- Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com |
railroad finally approached Comanche and economic times improved, Austin architects,
Lamour & Watson, were commissioned to design Comanche County's handsomest public
structure. This impressive three story building with its tower, striking clock,
and clear-sighted Statue of Justice was a landmark between 1891 and 1939. It was
razed and the space used to build the new Art Deco structure. A very similar building,
almost a twin to the 1891 Comanche Courthouse, can be seen in Cameron
today where Milam
County has done a beautiful restoration of their 19th century courthouse.
present Comanche County Courthouse|
1940 photo courtesy TXDoT
County Courthouse Eagle|
Photo courtey Terry
battered Statue of Justice, meticulously repaired by Cliff Conway, can be seen
in the main hall of Comanche's courthouse. Incidents
over time have left her without her scales that are thought to have been lost
in a windstorm and were missing by 1908. Subsequent damage after her removal from
the razed 1891 building includes a missing forearm, hand, and the symbolic Sword
of Justice. There are some bullet holes courtesy of a long ago target shooter.
Most unusual is the absence of the traditional blindfold that may allow Comanche's
Justice to look carefully at any issue with both eyes. A well preserved example
of the same statue can be seen on the Coryell
County courthouse at Gatesville today.
© Margaret T. Waring
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