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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

WASHINGTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Brenham, Texas
Washington County

Washington County has had six courthouses:
First three - 1836-1855
Fourth - 1855-1883
Fifth - 1884
Present - 1939


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Photographer's Note:
"Although the marker states that the current courthouse is the county's fourth, the display inside (with history provided by the Brenham Heritage Museum) lists six courthouses: 1837 (at Washington-on-the-Brazos,) 1841 (at Mount Vernon,) and the other four at Brenham: 1844, 1855, 1884 and 1939." Terry Jeanson
Washington County Courthouse, Brenham, Texas old photo
The present Washington County Courthouse
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

1940 Photo courtesy TXDoT

The Present Washington County Courthouse - Brenham, Texas

Date - 1939 (cornerstone) / 1940 (Historical Marker)
Architect - Travis Broesche
Style - Moderne
Material - Limestone
Present Washington County Courthouse, Brenham, Texas
The courthouse today
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2009
Brenham, Texas - Washington County Courthouse historical marker
Historical marker at north side entrance.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2009
WASHINGTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Built in 1940 with funds granted by the Public Works Administration. This is the fourth courthouse to serve Washington County since its formation in 1835. Constructed during the tenure of County Judge Sam Low, the massive white limestone courthouse was designed in the art moderne style. Details of that style include the light fixtures and cast aluminum eagles at the entries. The building stands as a symbol of Washington County government.

Recorded Texas Historic
Landmark - 1985
TX - Washington Courthouse Eagle
Washington County courthouse eagle
TE Photo, 2002
Washington County Courthouse entrance, Brenham, Texas
The west side entrance with Art-Deco grill work above the doors.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2007
Washington County Courthouse courtroom, Brenham, Texas
"The spacious, centrally located, third floor district courtroom retains its original configuration, never having had a dropped ceiling installed."
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2009
Washington County Courthouse courtroom details, Brenham, Texas
"Collage of courtroom details showing metal ceiling trim (top) that runs the perimeter of the courtroom and wood carvings (bottom) that are over the judge's bench."
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2009
Washington County Courthouse interior, Brenham, Texas
"At north side entrance looking south. The pictures on the wall on the right side of this photo are of previous Washington County courthouses.
(Scroll down to see photos.)"

Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2009
Washington County Courthouse cornerstone, Brenham, Texas
Courthouse cornerstone
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2007
Washington County Courthouse PWA plaque, Brenham, Texas
Dedication plaque for the current courthouse.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2009

Fifth Washington County Courthouse
1884-1939

1884 Washington County Courthouse, Brenham, Texas
Photo of the 1884 Washington County courthouse on display
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2009
Transcription from photo below:
"The fifth Washington County Courthouse, the third located in Brenham, was made of bricks shipped from Houston. The sand for the mortar came from Sandy Creek which flowed through Fireman's Park. The building was designed by *L.N. Preston and Son, Architects and cost $65,000. The great Galveston Hurricane destroyed the roof of the courthouse in 1900. The roof was repaired and the building served the county well until it was replaced by the current courthouse in 1939."

*Note - the architects name is a misprint. It should be J.N. Preston and Son, who also designed the similar looking Bell County courthouse in 1884. (Source: Southwestern Historical Quarterly 110.1 (2006) vii, 1-37 - "A Name on the Cornerstone: The Landmark Texas Architecture of Jasper Newton Preston" by Bob Brinkman and Dan K. Utley.)"
Brenham, Texas - 1884 Washington County Courthouse history
"The text and photo provided by the Brenham Heritage Museum."
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2009
Brenham, Texas - 1884 Washington County Courthouse  old photo
The 1884 Washington County courthouse
Postcard courtesy THC
The 1884 Washington Countyb Courthouse, Brenham, Texas old photo
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Fourth Washington County Courthouse
1855-1883
Brenham TX 1855 Washington County courthouse

Photo of the 1855 Washington County courthouse on display
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2009

Transcription from photo below:
"The fourth Washington County Courthouse, the second located in Brenham, was a two-story building constructed of Brenham-manufactured bricks. The contractor for the construction of the building was Mr. John Stamps. It was at this courthouse that a county meeting was held on December 17, 1860 to decide the issue of secession from the Union. The meeting voted to support immediate secession."
"The text and photo provided by the Brenham Heritage Museum."
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2009
First Three Washington County Courthouses
1836-1855
Transcription from photo below:

"The county of Washington, one of the oldest and most historic in the state, was created March 17, 1836, and organized December 14, 1837. The first county seat was located at Washington-on-the-Brazos, the site of the signing of the Texas Declaration of Independence in 1836. A one-room log cabin served as the seat of justice until 1841 when the county seat was moved to Mount Vernon.

In September 1841, the county seat was moved to Mount Vernon, located in the northwest part of the county. A log courthouse served as the seat of county government with court often being held outside under a large oak tree on warm summer days.

In 1844, an election was held to move the county seat to a more central location. Towns in the running included Independence, Turkey Creek, Mount Vernon and Brenham. Brenham won the election and a public square was laid out. A small log house on the northeast side of the townsite was home to important government papers prior to construction of a courthouse building in Brenham. A two-story cedar building was built in 1844 on the site of the present-day courthouse.

It soon proved to be inadequate for the needs of county officials and a brick, two-story courthouse was completed in 1855 at a cost of $8,700. A tin roof was added for $75. Architects for the project were Joe Tom, Joe Miller and Hugh Sherrald.

No known drawings or photographs are available of the first three Washington County Courthouses."

TX - Historyof first 3 Washington County Courthouse s
"The text and photo was provided by the Brenham Heritage Museum."
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, 2009
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