TexasEscapes.com 
HOME : : NEW : : TEXAS TOWNS : : GHOST TOWNS : : TEXAS HOTELS : : FEATURES : : COLUMNS : : BUILDINGS : : IMAGES : : ARCHIVE : : SITE MAP
PEOPLE : : PLACES : : THINGS : : HOTELS : : VACATION PACKAGES
Texas Escapes
Online Magazine
Canton Hotels
Find Hotel Deals in Canton, Texas
Book Here
Texas | Buildings | Courthouses

VAN ZANDT COUNTY COURTHOUSES
County Seat - Canton, Texas

Van Zandt County has had six courthouses:
1848, 1850, 1859, 1873, 1896 and 1937

Book Hotel Here > Canton Hotels

THE COURTHOUSES OF VAN ZANDT COUNTY

By Terry Jeanson

Van Zandt County was organized in 1848 with Jordan’s Saline, a town founded several years earlier, selected as the county seat. The town was named for its founder, John Jordan, who had established a salt works there. The county’s first courthouse, a building with a square floor plan, possibly in the Greek Revival style, was built there the same year.

In 1850, Wood County was cut from land belonging to Van Zandt County, leaving the county seat in the northeastern part of the county. The centrally located town of Canton was selected as the new county seat in 1850. Although surveyed in 1840, Canton was not actually settled and laid out until 1850. It was founded by settlers from Old Canton in Smith County who named it after their previous settlement. A log cabin was built in Canton in 1850 to serve as the county’s second courthouse, but it was only meant to be temporary. A third courthouse, a brick structure with a square floor plan, was built in 1859 by contractor Frederick Ezell.

In 1872, the Texas and Pacific Railway built through the northern part of the county, missing Canton by ten miles, but it went through Wills Point in the northwestern part of the county. In 1873, the citizens of Canton built a fourth courthouse, a fifty foot square two-story wood frame building, replacing the 1859 courthouse which had been condemned. The presence of the railroad helped Wills Point to prosper and in 1877 they were able to wrestle the county seat away from Canton, but armed citizens from Canton went to Wills Point to retrieve the county records. The Texas Supreme Court settled the affair by returning the county seat to Canton. The feud between the two towns led businessmen from Canton to establish their own extension to the railroad at Edgewood, nine miles north of Canton.

Between 1894 and 1896, the county’s fifth courthouse was built. It was designed by architect James Riely Gordon and built by contractor Otto P. Krueger. Gordon had already designed several magnificent courthouses in Texas by this time and this courthouse shared many of the design elements from his earlier buildings. Built of brick in the Richardsonian Romanesque style on a Greek cross plan, the courthouse had a three-story main section with a six-story tower with a copper eagle on top of a pyramidal roof. The building contained corner entrances, dormers, chimneys and turrets with patterns in the brick at the roof line. This structure served the county until it was demolished in 1935 for the building of a sixth courthouse, but the cornerstone and copper eagle survive and are displayed on the south lawn of the current courthouse grounds.

The county’s sixth, and current courthouse, was built between 1936 and 1937. It was built with funds from the Public Works Administration, costing $142,585. It was decided that a modern courthouse was needed in order to provide much needed work for men in the county. Constructed of brick with a cast stone veneer, the courthouse was built by contractor L. W. Wentzel and designed by Wichita Falls architects Voelcker and Dixon who had designed many courthouses in Texas from 1928 to 1940. Their Art-Moderne style of stepped massing with a vertical emphasis and stone-carved Art-Deco details can be seen in most of the courthouses they designed. This courthouse also includes stone-carved government symbols such as fasces and scales of justice. It continues to serve the county today.

© Terry Jeanson

Source: Courthouse information from the Texas Historical Commission County Atlas at http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/shell-county.htm. Historical information from the Handbook of Texas Online.
The 1937 Van Zandt County Courthouse , Canton, Texas
Van Zandt County Courthouse
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006

The Present Van Zandt County Courthouse -
County Seat - Canton, Texas

Date : 1937
Architect : Voelcker & Dixon
Style : Moderne
Material : Brick
121 E. Dallas (Hwy 64)

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Van Zandt County courthouse detail
Van Zandt County Courthouse detail
TE photo
The 1937 courthouse has some fine architectural detail.

The Eagle on the courthouse lawn was once a rite of passage for Van Zandt County boys who would scale the old (1896) courthouse to touch the Eagle.

Armed citizens of Canton marched on Wills Point in 1872 when the townspeople of Wills Point attempted to move the County Seat there. Canton had been bypassed by the railroad. The Texas Supreme Court ruled against the move and ordered Van Zandt to "Keep their seat" in Canton.

Book Hotel Here > Canton Hotels
Van Zandt County courthouse Canton Texas old photo
The 1937 Van Zandt County Courthouse
The granite centennial marker at right honors the county namesake Isaac Van Zandt and his wife Francis.
1939 photo courtesy TXDoT
Van Zandt County courthouse courtroom, Canton Texas
Art-Deco ornamentation can be found in the ceiling molding in the courtroom and the interior hallways. Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Texas - 1937 Van Zandt County courthouse historical marker
1937 Van Zandt County courthouse historical marker
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Historical Marker Text

Van Zandt County Courthouse

Built in 1937 with public Works Administration funds, this is the sixth building to serve as the Van Zandt County Courthouse. According to local lore, the commissioners court decreed that a modern courthouse should be erected in order to provide jobs for men of the county during the Depression era. The stepped massed edifice with cast stone veneer walls features art deco and art moderne details and is noteworthy for its vertical emphasis and its association with the architectural firm of Voelcker and Dixon. The Wichita Falls and Houston-based firm designed several west Texas courthouses in this style.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1999
Van Zandt County courthouse  Art-Deco carvings
Art-Deco carvings on the south side of the courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
The 1896 Van Zandt County Courthouse
The 1896 Van Zandt County courthouse Canton Texas
The 1896 Van Zandt County Courthouse
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com
Historical markter text
Site of 1896 Van Zandt County Courthouse
In 1894, the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court approved construction of a new brick courthouse at this site. Built between 1894 and 1896, it replaced a frame courthouse that had served the county since shortly after the Civil War. The noted San Antonio Architect J. Riely Gordon designed the 1896 courthouse in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Built on a Greek cross plan, it features a three-story main structure and a six-story central tower with a copper eagle statue at the top. The building was torn down in the 1930s.

Texas Sesquicentennial 1836-1986
Canton, Texas-  1896 Van Zandt County courthouse Historical marker
1896 Van Zandt County courthouse Historical marker in front of the present courthouse in Canton
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Canton, Texas-  1896 Van Zandt County courthouse  cornerstone
The 1896 Van Zandt County courthouse cornerstone
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
Canton, Texas-  1896 Van Zandt County courthouse  copper eagle
The copper eagle and cornerstone from the 1896 courthouse are on the southeast corner of the courthouse grounds.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
More Texas Eagles
 1896 Van Zandt County courthouse represented in a Canton mural
1896 Van Zandt County courthouse represented in a Canton mural. Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2006
More Texas Murals
Van Zandt County Towns and Ghost Towns Include:
County Seat - Canton
County Courthouse - The Van Zandt County Courthouse
  • Creagleville
  • Grand Saline
  • Little Hope
  • Silver Lake
  • Van
  • Wills Point - Bluebird Capital of Texas

    Book Hotel Here > Canton Hotels
  • See Canton, Texas
    More Texas Courthouses

    Book Hotel Here >
    Canton Hotels
    Custom Search
    Book Hotel Here - Expedia Affiliate Network

    CITY SEARCH


    TEXAS ESCAPES CONTENTS
    HOME | TEXAS ESCAPES ONLINE MAGAZINE | HOTELS | SEARCH SITE
    TEXAS TOWN LIST | TEXAS GHOST TOWNS | TEXAS COUNTIES

    Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast
    TRIPS | STATES PARKS | RIVERS | LAKES | DRIVES | FORTS | MAPS

    Texas Attractions
    TEXAS FEATURES
    People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
    COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

    TEXAS ARCHITECTURE | IMAGES
    Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
    Vintage Photos

    TRAVEL RESERVATIONS | USA | MEXICO

    Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
    Website Content Copyright ©1998-2011. Texas Escapes - Blueprints For Travel, LLC. All Rights Reserved