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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

CAMERON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Brownsville, Texas

Cameron County has had three courthouses:
1882, 1912 and 1978


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The present 1978 Cameron County Courthouse , Brownsville Texas
The present 1978 Cameron County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006

The Present Cameron County Courthouse
- Brownsville, Texas

Date - 1978
Architect - SHWC Inc
Style - modern
Material - concrete
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The 1912 Cameron County Courthouse
- Brownsville, Texas

1150 E Madison, Brownsville

Architect - Atlee B. Ayres
Style - Texas Renaissance
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
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The restored 1912 Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville Texas
The 1912 Cameron County Courthouse has been beautifully restored and was rededicated on October 17, 2006.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Historical Marker Text

1912 Cameron County Courthouse

This classically styled public building has been central for Cameron County government for nearly a century. Texas and Mexico both claimed this area after 1836. The Texas Legislature created Cameron County in 1848, even before the land was officially made part of Texas and the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Named for Scottish-born Ewen Cameron (c. 1811-1843), a soldier killed during the Mier Expedition, the county was one of the largest in the state until additional counties were later carved from its territory. Santa Rita (5 mi. NW) was the first county seat before voters chose Brownsville in Dec. 1848. For a generation there was no formal courthouse, as county officials conducted business in homes and rented commercial space.

Cameron County built its first courthouse in 1882-83 at 1131 E. Jefferson, conducting business there for thirty years before the Rio Grande Masonic Lodge AF&AM No. 81 bought the building. In October 1911, citizens of the growing county voted 1058-148 in favor of a new $200,000 courthouse. San Antonio architect Atlee B. Ayres (1873-1969) designed this building, as well as a new county jail at 1201 E. Van Buren, and both county buildings were completed in 1913. The Classical Revival style rectangular cross axial plan courthouse is three stories with an elevated basement. The brick exterior features banded ground floor courses, Corinthian columns and pilasters, a dome and a classical parapet with terra cotta trim. The interior is notable for its octagonal rotunda and elaborate art-glass dome. When the county built a new courthouse in 1981, this site remained for county offices and was renamed the Dancy Building for Oscar C. Dancy (1879-1971), who served 48 years as county judge within these walls from 1921-33 and 1935-71.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2000
 1912 Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville Texas
Another view of the 1912 Cameron County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Ken Rudine, February 2007
Former Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville, Texas
1912 Cameron County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
1912 Cameron County Courthouse Stained Glass  Rotunda Skylight Brownsville Texas
The restored stained glass rotunda skylight
1912 Cameron County Courthouse

Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Brownsville TX - Cameron County Courthouse Skylight

Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006

Cameron County courthouse, Brownsville , Texas
The Cameron County Courthouse - still brand new in 1918.
Photo courtesy Jim Gesler, Wyoming, New York
The 1882 Cameron County Courthouse
- Brownsville, Texas
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
1131 E. Jefferson Street, Brownsville

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1882 Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville, Texas
The 1882 courthouse with the clock tower
Postcard circa 1909 courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Historical Marker Text

Cameron County Courthouse of 1883-1914

Completed in 1883, this was the first courthouse built by Cameron County officials, who previously rented or purchased office space. This three-story brick structure served as the county courthouse until 1914, when a new building was erected. Rio Grande Lodge No. 81, A.F.&A.M., then occupied this structure. The original roof, with its gables and central tower, was removed during remodeling.
1962
1882 Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville Texas Rio Grande Masonic Lodge No. 81.

The 1882 Cameron County Courthouse today.
(Now the Rio Grande Masonic Lodge No. 81.)
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006

Research and photos by Terry Jeanson

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