County has had two courthouses: 1882
County Seat - Glen Rose
Somervell County Courthouse
Architect - John Cormack
National Register Listing
Texas Historic Landmark - 1963
The Somervell County Courthouse
is a simple two story structure featuring elements of Romanesque Revival and General
Grant architectural styles. Intersecting hallways on the first floor divide the
first floor space into four sections. The second floor features a courtroom and
some office space. The building is modest in size, oblong in shape, and approximately
60 feet wide and 40 feet deep.
County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939|
Photo courtesy TXDoT
Somervell County Courthouse
Somervell County courthouse|
Photo courtesy Terry
Jeanson, February, 2008
of the 1882 Somervell County courthouse is in a display case at the current courthouse.
It was donated by Bro. E.B. McCown, a descendant of the county's first sheriff.
A card next to the photo reads as follows:
COURTHOUSE BUILT ON PRESENT SITE
this building was started ca. 1880, they got as far as the tops of the first-floor
windows. Financial difficulties forced the court to wait a few years before finishing
the building in the late 1880s. This structure burned in January 1893, but the
walls were retained in the present building.
County Courthouse Historical Marker|
Photo courtesy William
Beauchamp, July 2009
Courthouse Historical Marker Text:Built
1893. Late Victorian style. Native limestone construction.
organized in 1875 and named for General Alexander Somervell (1796-1854), Texas
soldier, colonist, and statesman.
Court was first held in an old store
across road from Barnard's Mill. A log cabin (1 block w) was used later. Third
courthouse (first on this site) was finished in 1882 but burned in 1893, along
with many valuable records. Present structure has a fireproof vault.
The courthouse square, much like the courthouse building,
is modest in size. The two most notable buildings on the square are the First
National Bank Building and the Campbell Building.
The courthouse square
has been a popular gathering place for Somervell residents since the late 1880's.
Back before cars and grocery stores, farmers would bring stock animals and other
goods to the square to sell. That tradition is still alive and well today. Local
farmers continue to bring fresh fruits, vegetables, and other items to the town
square for sale. They set up on the west side of the square where there are benches
and plenty of shade provided by old pecan trees. Both the farmers tasty offerings
and the conversation are refreshingly unique.
Somervell County HistoryAround
1860 Charles and Juana Barnard built a three story stone gristmill along the Paluxy
River. The town that eventually grew around the mill was called Barnard's Mill.
In 1871 T.C. Jordan, bought the mill and surrounding land from Charles Barnard.Mrs.
T.C. Jordan called the area around Barnard's Mill Rose Glen as a reminder
of her native Scotland. Years later the town's people voted to rename the town
The county of Somervell
was formed in 1875 from about 200 square miles of land perviously part of Hood
County. The county name honors Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Somervell.
By 1876 the town population grew sufficiently that T.C. Jordan believed the
time was ripe to build a town square. Jordan promised to build a county courthouse
if some of the town's citizens would buy property around the square. The first
courthouse on the square was completed around 1892 and burned down in 1893.
Second courthouse on the square, the present day structure, was ordered
built by the commissioners' court in 1893 and completed late in the same
year for a cost of $13,500. This courthouse employed elements of the Romanesque
Revival architectural style. The building also featured a mansard roof treatment
and ornamental iron crestings which are characteristic of the General Grant style.
The courthouse was constructed of locally queried limestone.
a tornado damaged the courthouse and many other buildings on the town square.
The courthouse roof and clock tower were severely damaged. At that time, the small
rural county didn't have the financial resources to properly repair the roof or
replace the clock tower. A modest roof repair was made by local craftsmen which
omitted the clock and some of the ornate details of the original roof.
In 1986 the Somervell County Commissioners' Court voted to restore the
county courthouse. The work was completed by Ray J. Miller Construction Company
of Meridian under the direction
of architects Huckabee and Donham of Stephenville,
Texas. Final cost of restoring the building was $601,111.20.
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Leach, Dorothy, The Story of The Somervell County Courthouse. Somervell: Somervell
Historical Commission, 1987.
Texas Historical Commission, Texas Historic
Sites Atlas. http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/, 2003.
Copyright © 2003 by
Fenstermacher All rights reserved