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  Texas : Architecture : Courthouses :
  Fayette County Courthouse Clocktower clockwork Courthouse exterior Courthouse interior Fayette County Courthouse historic image
  I - Courthouse II - Clock Tower III - Exterior IV - Interior V - Historic Images
THE LOVE SONG OF J. RIELY GORDON
A series of photo essays of courthouses designed by J.R.G.

The Fayette County Courthouse
c. 1891

La Grange, Texas

Text and Photos by John Troesser

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Fayette County Courthouse Tower
Fayette County Courthouse Tower

Part I - The Courthouse



County and Seat

La Grange is the county seat of Fayette County.

The name comes from the Marquis de Lafayette's estate in France which translates as "The Meadows". After the (American) Revolution, it seemed that America couldn't name enough towns after the Marquis - and many of them remain today. At last count there were something like 16 towns across the United States named directly or indirectly after the Frenchman. Since there was already a Fayetteville in Fayette County - the citizens here settled for La Grange.

Fayette is one of the most historic counties in the state of Texas. The Muster Oak - or Dawson Oak - on the NE corner of the square attests to that. The tree is looking much better than it has in years past - despite the fact that a good deal of its trunk is now concrete. Special attention has been given to the tree - and it's paid off.

A fire has recently (2000) destroyed a historic corner in downtown La Grange - but this will be made right - count on it. The square itself dates back to a time before a standard driving pattern existed for small towns across Texas. Please pay attention to the flow of traffic around the square when you visit - and watch the cars that are parked in between two traffic lanes. Corner intersections are NOT all four way stops.
The Building:
The understated Fayette County courthouse is not one of Gordon's "wedding cake" efforts like Waxahachie or Waco. It's a relatively utilitarian building - as it was designed to be. The detail is there - it just doesn't hit you at first glance.

Gordon often employed a cruciform floor plan (on his courthouses with a square floor plan) that drew air up through the entrances and staircases through a central shaft. It must have been a blessing to civil servants before air-conditioning.

For an informative no-nonsense description of the courthouse - we turn to Richard Zelade's Hill Country:

"The most visually arresting building on the square is, of course, the Fayette County Courthouse, built in 1891 to the tune of $96,000. The finished product was well worth the cost, don't you agree?

The exterior walls are Belton white limestone, complemented with blue sandstone quarried at nearby Muldoon. Red Pecos sandstone stringcourses (decorative horizontal mouldings) and pink Burnet granite columns and steps form rich accents. At the base of the clock tower is a large stone slab on which is carved a large American eagle. Above this, at the tower's four corners, are carved griffins. The roof is covered with slate and Spanish tile."

Part II. The Clock Tower - next page


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La Grange Hotels

February 2002
Copyright John Troesser

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