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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

BELL COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Belton, Texas

Bell County has had three courthouses:
1851, 1858 and 1884

See Bell County Courthouses Historical Marker

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Restored Bell County Courthouse, Belton, Texas
Bell County Courthouse after recent restoration
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, March 2003

Bell County Courthouse - Belton, Texas

Date - 1884
Architect - Jasper N. Preston and Sons
Style - Renaissance Revival

The 1884 Bell County Courthouse has recently undergone a restoration that replaced the bell tower that had been missing for many years. The same construction firm that finished off the clock tower for Cameron's Milam County Courthouse did this job. Modern lightweight materials now allow many courthouses to appear the way their architects intended.

Historical Marker:
Bell County Courthouses

Three Bell County courthouses have stood on this site--part of the 120 acres given by Matilda F. Connell Allen for the location of the county seat. Prior to erection of a courthouse, early official business of the county (created and organized, 1850) was handled in blacksmith shop of John Danley, the first chief justice. His anvil (in one of the three original buildings in Belton) was the council table.

First courthouse was a one-story (16' x 18') frame building erected by contractor Thomas T. Havens in 1851, at cost of $199, financed by sale of city lots.

On April 1, 1858, the commissioners contracted for a two-story (50' x 60') native limestone building with intersecting main halls, fireplaces on each floor, double doors and other fine details. Cost ($13,625) was so resented that none of the commissioners were re-elected. Simeon Bramlet was the contractor. This building was in service from Dec. 1, 1859, until 1884.

Cornerstone for third courthouse was laid on June 24, 1884; structure was completed by May 30, 1885. Ben D. Lee contracted to build it for $64.965. It has been improved at later dates. The county clerk's office was fireproofed in 1898. In 1950, there was extensive remodeling and modernizing.
(1970)

Bell County Courthouse tower, Belton, Texas
Belton, Texas Bell County Courthouse tower
The new courthouse bell tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2003
Historical Marker:

Bell County Courthouse - Belton, Texas

Using arched passageways, round-arch and pedimented windows, a clock tower with columned gallery, and a rusticated limestone finish, Jasper N. Preston & Son of Austin designed the 1885 Bell County Courthouse in the Renaissance Revival style. Ben D. Lee served as contractor. The original tower and dome were removed in the 1950s, but were rebuilt in 1999 based on documentation provided by historic photographs. A fine example of Preston's work, the style is echoed throughout Belton's downtown, in large part rebuilt after an 1889 fire razed much of the commercial district.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2000

Bell County Courthouse, Belton, Texas
Bell County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
Bell County Courthouse, Belton, Texas
A pre-automobile view of the Bell County Courthouse and courthouse square
Photo courtesy THC
Bell County Courthouse, Belton, Texas
Bell County Courthouse in the 1960s (Note missing bell tower)
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
Bell County Courthouse
Postcard circa 1940 courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/
Bell County Courthouse, Belton, Texas
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

The Naming of Belton and Bell County

Both Belton and Bell County were named after Peter (I-might-just-be-a-Colonel-but-I've-got-a-Texas-County-named-after-me) Bell. Bell was a mere Colonel in the Civil War, but he was a Mexican War Veteran, and before that, a San Jacinto Veteran. In his spare time he was a Texas Ranger, a Congressional Representative and a Governor.

Belton is a little different from other County Seats, in that it hasn't the dominant population in the County. Belton's 18,878 are quite happy where they are and with Temple's 68,218 being where they are.
Belton TX - Peter Hansborough Bell Statue
Statue of Peter H. Bell in front of the Bell County Courthouse in Belton.
TE photo.
More Texas Statues
See Belton, Texas
Bell County
More Texas Courthouses

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