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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

County Seat - McKinney, Texas

Collin County has had six courthouses:
2007 - McKinney
1979 - McKinney (demolished)
1874, remodeled in 1927 - McKinney
1856 - McKinney
1848 - McKinney
1846 - Buckner

Book Area Hotels › McKinney Hotels

McKinney TX - 2007 Collin County Courthouse
2007 Collin County Courthouse front entrance
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2020

The Present Collin County Courthouse -
McKinney, Texas

Off US 75/SH 121 on Bloomdale Road
Date - 2007
Architect - Pierce, Goodwin, Alexander & Linville
Style - Modern
Materials - Red & buff colored brick, glass & concrete

The north side addition to the 2007 courthouse was completed in 2011.

In November of 2017, the 2007 courthouse was officially renamed the Russell A. Steindam Courts Building for Plano Vietnam War hero and Medal of Honor winner Russell Albert Steindam.

McKinney TX - 2007 Collin County Courthouse
The 2007 Collin County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2020

Historical Marker: on Courthouse grounds, 100 Blk of N. Tennessee Ave, between Virginia and Louisiana Sts., McKinney

Old Collin County Courthouse

Collin County was created from Fannin County in 1846. It was named for pioneer area settler Collin McKinney (1766-1861), a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence.

The first county seat was established at Buckner (2 mi. NW). In 1848 William and Margaret Davis conveyed 120 acres of land at this site for a more central seat of government, which became the community of McKinney.

The first two courthouse in the new town were built of wood. In 1874 county commissioners approved plans for a more substantial courthouse on this site. Sherman architect Charles Wheelock designed the building and O.J. King served as general contractor. Constructed of stone from a local quarry (3.5 mi.ne), it was completed in 1876. A grand ball was held in the courthouse to celebrate the event. By the 1920s the courthouse was inadequate to meet the needs of a growing county. Extensive changes, including the addition of a basement and a third floor, were made in 1926-27 under the direction of architect W.A. Peters of Paris, Texas. The site of many political speeches and events, the building was used as a courthouse until 1979. It now serves as a historic reminder of the county's early development.

The 1979 Collin County Courthouse -
McKinney, Texas

Architect - Jarvis Putty Jarvis, Inc. & Harvey G. Moore, Associate Material - Steel, brick and concrete.
Style - modern
Demolished in October of 2010

1979 Collin County Courthouse in McKinney Texas
The demolished 1979 Collin County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2007

1979 Collin Courthouse Cornerstone, McKinney TX
The cornerstone to the former 1979 courthouse is in front of the current courthouse.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, December 2020
More Texas Cornerstones

Restored 1874 old Collin county courthouse, McKinney  Texas
1927 Collin County Courthouse
111 N. Tennessee
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2007
Now the McKinney Performing Arts Center

The 1874 (remodeled 1927) Collin County Courthouse
McKinney, Texas
Date - 1874
Architect - Charles Wheelock
Style - Second empire
Material - Brick and stone

Remodeled 1927
W. A. Peters (Sparger and Peters)
Style - Neoclassical Revival Style

"The 1874 Collin County courthouse on the square was restored to its 1927 condition in 2006. It now serves as the McKinney Performing Arts Center." - Terry Jeanson

Historical Marker: On City Square, 111 N. Tennessee
1927 Collin County Courthouse
Collin County was formed in 1846 and its only town, Buckner, was automatically selected as the county seat. To comply with state law, an election was held to relocate the county seat to the center of the county. Only eleven people participated due to inclement weather, and when the vote was tallied McKinney was established as the county seat in 1848.

The first courthouses in McKinney were modest wooden structures. A third courthouse was erected on this site during 1874-1875, and was opened for use in 1876. The 2-story Victorian structure was made of native limestone blocks with a steep mansard roof and a main entrance that faced east. The building's architect, often mistakenly identified as Charles Wheeler, was Charles Wheelock of Sherman. The much-celebrated courthouse on the square became a backdrop for parades and other events.

The structure was overcrowded and in poor condition by the mid-1920s. Extensive exterior and interior renovations included the removal of the mansard roof and tower caps, as well as the addition of a third story and basement. Overseen by W. A. Peters of the Paris, Texas, architectural firm of Sparger and Peters, the work resulted in a classical revival edifice completed in 1927. Original features included tripartite windows with flanking double classical columns on the north and south facades. The new structure was commonly known as the "Temple of Justice," and continued to be the center of activity for city and county functions. It remained in service as a courthouse until 1979. The structure remains a fine example of 20th century classical revival design and a monument to Collin County history.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1998

1874/1927 Collin Courthouse Cornerstone McKinney TX
The 1874/1927 Collin County Courthouse Cornerstone
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2007
More Texas Cornerstones

Collin County Courthouse after 1927 remodeling  , McKinney, Texas
The 1874 Collin County Courthouse after the 1927 remodeling to Neoclassical Revival Style.
Photo courtesy texasoldphotos.com

Former Collin County Courthouse , McKinney, Texas 1939 old photo
The Old Collin County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TxDoT

1874 Collin County Courthouse, McKinney Texas postcard
Another view of the remodeled Collin County Courthouse
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

The 1874 Collin County Courthouse in 1908, before remodeling,  McKinney, Texas
The 1874 Collin County Courthouse as it appeared in 1908
Postcard courtesy www.rootsweb.com/ %7Etxpstcrd/

The 1874 Collin County Courthouse,  McKinney Texas old photo
Another view of the 1874 Second Empire Style Collin County Courthouse
Postcard circa 1908, courtesy THC

Photographer's Note: The signs below were uncovered when the original paint was restored in the basement of the Old Collin County courthouse. The text on the plaque beneath both signs is the same. - Terry Jeanson, June 2007

Collins County courthouse  old sign and plaque
Click on image to enlarge the plaque below the signs.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2007

Collins County courthouse  old sign and plaque
Click on image to enlarge the plaque below the signs.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2007

The Embodiment of Human Endeavor

by Guy R. Giersch
Stroll down the east side of the square. Stop. View for a few minutes the towers of the courthouse and you will wonder why they are allowed to remain in their present unsightly condition. The panes in the windows are broken out; the shutters are torn off and lie in the debris in the attic, the rain blows in at the openings.

Bats in the belfry? No one can say, but it is known that hundreds of English sparrows and pigeons find a roosting place in the towers. If Collin County is not able to build a new Temple of Justice then we can at least put in some window-panes and patch up the holes.

On top of all that, the roof leaks, the floors are warped, and county records are getting soaked.

You would think you were reading a recent report but this came from the May 5, 1921 edition of the Weekly Democrat-Gazette. The same could have been said of conditions prior to the start of restoration and rehabilitation of the Old Collin County Courthouse.... next page

James Webb Throckmorton Statue ,  Collin County Courthouse lawn, McKinney Texas
Statue of James Webb Throckmorton
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2007
More People | Texas Statues

Collin County Forum:

  • Collin County Courthouse Wedding
    My husband, Steve and I were married in the old [Collin County] courthouse in 1973. We eloped on the last day before our blood tests would have to be redone -- really! We've made it 33 years in January... there was snow on the ground back then and we spent our honeymoon iced in on Parker Road in a neat A-frame redwood house that we rented on the creek across from what is now Collin County Community College Spring Creek Campus... Plano had about 30,000 people then -- I think they were all on the east side of Central Exprwy. We bought our rings at Weatherford Jewelers in downtown Plano and our first Christmas tree at the Wall-Robbins house on Ave. K.

    In 1987, I bought a picture of the old courthouse, but it didn't look anything like when we were married... I learned from your website photos that it was changed over the years and the painting that I have (a limited editon by John Pototschnik) is at the turn of the century -- with snow and all -- even more of a treasure!

    I now serve on the Plano Heritage Commission and will work my first Blackland Prairie Festival this year, dressing in the 1890's costume. One daughter lives in the Schimelpfenig House on 17th, a beautifully restored Victorian and my other daughter and grandchildren live in Frisco, where my daughter teaches at CCCC; my son will be returning to Plano this summer after graduation from Texas Tech, so we are in Collin County for good! The children gave us a surprise 25th anniversary party and about 80 old friends, new friends and family came to wish us well. These are some of the most remarkable times of our married lives since we got married without any gala. I hope to be invited to the grand-reopening of the old courthouse... it won't be the same without the Justice of the Peace performing the rites amidst the ringing phone and papers all over the desk!

    Thanks for your work and allowing me to share some good times and history with you! - Janice Craze Cline, Plano, TX, March 17, 2006

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