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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

WHARTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Wharton, Texas

Wharton County has had three courthouses: 1848, 1851, 1889
See Historical Marker

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Wharton County Courthouse, Wharton  Texas
Wharton County Courthouse
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

Photo courtesy Steve Stephens, 2006
Historical Marker:

Wharton County Courthouse

The Texas legislature created Wharton County in 1846, incorporating part of Stephen F. Austin’s original land grant from Mexico. The William Kincheloe family donated land on the east bank of the Colorado River for a courthouse square, and the home of first county treasurer Daniel Kincheloe served as a temporary courthouse.

A framed building (1848) and two-story brick building (1852) served as courthouses on Monterey Square until the county considered a new edifice in the 1880s. Judge W.J. Croom favored a new building, while A.H. “Shanghai” Pierce and G.C. Duncan led several landowners in signing a petition and filing injunctions to stop the county from proceeding. In 1888, the commissioners court ordered plans from Houston architect Eugene T. Heiner for a courthouse and jail. Heiner, a founding member of the Texas State Association of Architects in 1886, also designed Judge Croom’s home (1895), Wharton Public School (1899), and other public, commercial and residential buildings in Texas.

Litigation delayed construction on the courthouse until November 1888. Completed in August 1889, it featured Second Empire and Italianate styling, including a mansard roof decorated with pediments, truncated roofs, limestone detailing, arched windows, corner quoins, and a tall central clock tower. The salmon-colored brick came from Colorado River clay deposits. Major alterations by architects J.W. Dahnert (1935) and Wyatt C. Hedrick (1949) resulted in new wings and entries, removal of features, and stucco exterior finish in the Moderne style. The altered structure served the county until the 21st century, when a unique and far-reaching preservation effort resulted in its full restoration.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2007
Wharton County courthouse
Wharton County Courthouse
Photo circa 1900 courtesy THC
Wharton County courthouse, Texas
Wharton County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
An 1888 design by famed architect Eugene Heiner. Bricks were made from clay from the Colarado River banks. Built to replace an 1851 structure, the building has been drastically altered over the years to the point it no longer resembles Heiner's work. The bell tower was removed, but fortunately the bell has been saved and was ready for restoration.

Wharton County Courthouse has been restored to its original state. This courthouse joins Halletteville as the only two Heiner works that are as the architect intended.
Wharton County Courthouse Texas after restoration
Wharton County Courthouse today (after restoration)
Photo courtesy George Shaffer, March 2006
TX - Wharton County Courthouse tower after restoration
Courthouse tower
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
TX - Wharton County Courthouse Eternal Flame
Courthouse Eternal Flame
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
TX - Wharton County Courthouse tower
Wharton County marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009
Wharton County Courthouse under restoration
Wharton County Courthouse under restoration
Photo courtesy Wharton County Historical Commission, May 2005
Wharton County courthouse under restoration, Wharton, Texas 2005
Wharton County Courthouse under restoration
Photo courtesy Wharton County Historical Commission,

Photo by A.C.Shelton, October 2005
Wharton County, Texas old photo
View of the old Wharton courthouse in the late 1800’s.
Photo courtesy Wharton County Historical Museum
See Wharton County Old Photos
Texas - Wharton County Courthouse Historical Marker
Wharton County Courthouse Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, February 2009

Wharton County Forum

  • Wharton County Courthouse Restoration
    We are still in the restoration process. The outside is probably 85 percent finished and now we are on phase 2 which is in interior. Project completion is projected for May or June 2006. - AC Shelton, Chairperson, Wharton County Historical Commission, October 17, 2005
  • As of today all personnel from the Wharton County Courthouse are being moved to their new office buildings so that renovations can begin, returning to the original 1885. We are excited. - Billie Jones, Wharton Chamber, December 09, 2002
  • See Wharton, Texas |
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