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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

EDWARDS COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Rocksprings, Texas

Edwards County has had 2 courthouses: 1883 and 1891

Rock Springs Area Hotels > Junction Hotels
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse
Edwards County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2008

Edwards County Courthouse
- Rocksprings, Texas

Date: 1891
Architect: Ben Davey & Bruno Schott
Style: Romanesque Revival
Material: Stone

EDWARDS COUNTY COURTHOUSES

By Terry Jeanson

Edwards County was named for Nacogdoches settler and empresario Haden Edwards, who, with his brother Benjamin, led the short-lived Fredonian Rebellion against the Mexican government in 1826-27. The county was formed in 1858 but not officially organized until 1883 with the town of Bullhead, later renamed Vance, designated as the county seat. By the following year, the county seat was moved to the town of Leakey. (Leakey would later become the county seat of Real County when that county was organized in 1913.) According to the Texas historical commission, the first courthouse was constructed in 1883. It burned in Leakey on July 10, 1888.

In 1891, a new, more centrally located site was selected for the county seat. The town that was founded was named Rocksprings (originally Rock Springs) after the natural springs that bubbled forth from the crevices of the rocks in Llano Canyon. A local town store served as the courthouse until the current courthouse was built. Designed and built by Ben Davey and Bruno Schott of Kerrville, it was constructed in 1891 with native limestone in a vague Romanesque Revival style. Almost square in shape, the hipped roof had Mansard cupolas over the north and south side entrances, a balcony, and stone arches over the windows. In 1897, the courthouse was gutted by a fire, leaving only the outer walls, and these details were lost. The original architects rebuilt the courthouse the following year. Stone gables with carved, foliated designs replaced the Mansard roofs and simple lintels over the windows replaced the stone arches. The building has wooden two over two windows and wooden doors with wooden fanlight transoms and stone voussoirs over the transoms. On April 12, 1927, a tornado, which devastated most of the town, destroyed the courthouse's roof which was later repaired. The courthouse itself was one of the few buildings in town left standing.

Although the exterior was mostly untouched, modern renovations over the years had drastically changed the interior of the courthouse. In 2010, Edwards County received a restoration planning grant of nearly $100,000 followed by a grant of over $1 million in 2012 towards an historic restoration of the building to its 1898 post-fire condition. New cement floors were poured and the wooden window frames, doors, fanlights and staircase wainscoting were restored and/or replicated. An 1898 courthouse bench was used as a model for the replicated bench seating in the courtroom. Several original 1898 pieces in the courtroom still exist and were restored, including the judge's bench, an attorney's table, several of the chairs and the balustrade between the judge's bench and the gallery. The courthouse also received modern electrical, plumbing and environmental systems along with the building's first elevator. The restoration was completed and a rededication ceremony was held on July 5, 2014. - Terry Jeanson

Sources:
The Courthouses of Texas by Mavis P.Kelsey Sr. and Donald H. Dyal, 2nd edition, 2007,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocksprings,_Texas,
The Handbook of Texas Online,
The Texas Historical Commission's Texas Historic Sites Atlas at http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/shell-county.htm and
the Texas National Register Program Narrative at http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/shell-desig.htm
Edwards County Courthouse, Rocksprings, Texas old  photo
Edwards County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Vintage photo courtesy TXDoT
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse old photo
Poster showing the courthouse with its original features ca. 1891
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2014
Edwards County Courthouse historical marker,  Rocksprings TX
Edwards County Courthouse historical marker
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, June 2009
Edwards County Courthouse cornerstone,  Rocksprings TX
The courthouse cornerstone
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2014
More Texas Cornerstones
Rocksprings TX Edwards County Courthouse
Edwards County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2014
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse back
Edwards County Courthouse (Rear, NE corner)
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2014
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse hall
Courthouse hallway looking north (before restoration.)
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2006
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse hall restored
Courthouse hallway looking north (after restoration.)
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2014
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse courtroom
Distric courtroom before restoration
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January, 2006
Rocksprings TX -  Edwards County Courthouse courtroom
Distric courtroom after restoration
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, July 2014
Edwards County Courthouse winter view,  Rocksprings TX
Edwards County Courthouse winter view
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2008
Edwards County Courthouse summer view,  Rocksprings TX
Edwards County Courthouse summer view
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, June 2009
Edwards County Courthouse gable,  Rocksprings TX
Gable over the Edwards County Courthouse entrance
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2008
Edwards County Courthouse east view,  Rocksprings TX
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, June 2009
Photographer's Note:
Notice shoe scrapers for scraping mud off before entering the courthouse. Early dirt streets made this very practicle in the early years! - William Beauchamp
Edwards County Courthouse east entrance with shoe scrapers,  Rocksprings TX
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, June 2009

Rocksprings, TX, Devil's Sinkhole Visitors Center Tour Bus
Devil's Sinkhole Tour Bus at Rocksprings' Visitors Center
Photo courtesy William Beauchamp, June 2009

Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area - Rocksprings, Texas

Home to 1 to 4 million Mexican-Free tail bats The Devils Sinkhole can be found 8 miles NE of Rocksprings Texas and is accessable through approved tours which start at the visitors center at the Courthouse Square.- William Beauchamp, June 2009

See Rocksprings, Texas |
Edwards County
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