Date - 1892
Architect - J. Riely Gordon.
Style - Romanesque Revival
Material - Locally-quarried limestone accented with Pecos sandstone
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
| Erath County
The Erath County Courthouse is a substantial three story edifice constructed
of local white limestone and red Pecos sandstone. The tower of the
building extends to a height of 95 feet, and the building's base measures
60 by 80 feet.
This building presents a variation on a traditional theme in early
Texas courthouses of intersecting halls on the first floor dividing
the first floor space into four major areas. The twist is that the
tower walls extend down through the center of the building creating
an open central space on the first floor. This central space or atrium
has no immediate ceiling and is open to the second and third floors.
Iron staircases on the east and west sides of the building provide
access to the upper levels. The district courtroom occupies the south
side of the building on the second and third floors. This courtroom
features a high ceiling that arches above to the third story balcony.
The Erath County Courthouse underwent extensive restoration in 2002
and the work was nearly complete in January of 2003.
Copyright © 2003 by Sam Fenstermacher, All rights reserved
Bibliography: Texas Historical Commission, Texas Historic Sites Atlas.
Founded in 1854
and named for early settler and land donor John M. Stephen, the
town of Stephenville became
county seat when Erath
County was created in 1856.
The first county
courthouse, a wood frame structure built in 1856, was destroyed
by fire in 1866. By 1890 Erath County was experiencing an economic
boom. The railroad had reached this area in 1889, and local business
increased as shipping opportunities improved. County commissioners
called for bids to design a new courthouse in 1891. J. Riely Gordon
submitted the winning design. The construction contract was awarded
to S. A. Tomlinson of Fort
Worth. Gordon, who became a nationally known architect, had
designed two earlier buildings on the town square (the First National
Bank and the Crow Opera House). He is well known for his Texas courthouse
rendition of the Romanesque Revival style, this courthouse, completed
in 1892, features striking use of locally-quarried limestone accented
with Pecos sandstone. A 1988 restoration project included the addition
of an adjacent courthouse annex. The central clock tower of the
historic courthouse has been the most prominent feature of the surrounding
landscape for more than a century.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1963
Contractor - J.
D. Parnell & J. J. Porter
Demolished for new courthouse in 1891
Destroyed by fire in 1866