Somervell County Courthouse
Constructed - 1894
Architect - John Cormack
National Register Listing - 1979
Texas Historic Landmark - 1963
The Somervell County Courthouse is a simple two story structure featuring
elements of Romanesque Revival and General Grant architectural styles.
Intersecting hallways on the first floor divide the first floor space
into four sections. The second floor features a courtroom and some
office space. The building is modest in size, oblong in shape, and
approximately 60 feet wide and 40 feet deep.
Courthouse Historical Marker
Photo courtesy William
Beauchamp, July 2009
| Historical Marker
Built 1893. Late
Victorian style. Native limestone construction.
County was organized in 1875 and named for General Alexander Somervell
(1796-1854), Texas soldier, colonist, and statesman.
Court was first held in an old store across road from Barnard's Mill.
A log cabin (1 block w) was used later. Third courthouse (first on
this site) was finished in 1882 but burned in 1893, along with many
valuable records. Present structure has a fireproof vault.
Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
Somervell County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry
Jeanson, February, 2008
This photo of the 1882 Somervell County courthouse is in a display
case at the current courthouse. It was donated by Bro. E.B. McCown,
a descendant of the county's first sheriff. A card next to the photo
reads as follows:
FIRST COURTHOUSE BUILT ON PRESENT SITE
When this building was started ca. 1880, they got as far as the tops
of the first-floor windows. Financial difficulties forced the court
to wait a few years before finishing the building in the late 1880s.
This structure burned in January 1893, but the walls were retained
in the present building.
The courthouse square, much like the courthouse building,
is modest in size. The two most notable buildings on the square are
the First National Bank Building and the Campbell Building.
The courthouse square has been a popular gathering place for Somervell
residents since the late 1880's. Back before cars and grocery stores,
farmers would bring stock animals and other goods to the square to
sell. That tradition is still alive and well today. Local farmers
continue to bring fresh fruits, vegetables, and other items to the
town square for sale. They set up on the west side of the square where
there are benches and plenty of shade provided by old pecan trees.
Both the farmers tasty offerings and the conversation are refreshingly
Around 1860 Charles
and Juana Barnard built a three story stone gristmill along the Paluxy
River. The town that eventually grew around the mill was called Barnard's
Mill. In 1871 T.C. Jordan, bought the mill and surrounding land
from Charles Barnard.Mrs. T.C. Jordan called the area around Barnard's
Mill Rose Glen as a reminder of her native Scotland. Years
later the town's people voted to rename the town Glen
The county of
Somervell was formed in 1875 from about 200 square miles of land
perviously part of Hood County. The county name honors Lieutenant-Colonel
By 1876 the town population grew sufficiently that T.C. Jordan believed
the time was ripe to build a town square. Jordan promised to build
a county courthouse if some of the town's citizens would buy property
around the square. The first courthouse on the square was completed
around 1892 and burned down in 1893.
Second courthouse on the square, the present day structure,
was ordered built by the commissioners' court in 1893 and completed
late in the same year for a cost of $13,500. This courthouse employed
elements of the Romanesque Revival architectural style. The building
also featured a mansard roof treatment and ornamental iron crestings
which are characteristic of the General Grant style. The courthouse
was constructed of locally queried limestone.
In 1902 a tornado damaged the courthouse and many other buildings
on the town square. The courthouse roof and clock tower were severely
damaged. At that time, the small rural county didn't have the financial
resources to properly repair the roof or replace the clock tower.
A modest roof repair was made by local craftsmen which omitted the
clock and some of the ornate details of the original roof.
In 1986 the Somervell County Commissioners' Court voted to
restore the county courthouse. The work was completed by Ray J. Miller
Construction Company of Meridian
under the direction of architects Huckabee and Donham of Stephenville,
Texas. Final cost of restoring the building was $601,111.20.
Leach, Dorothy, The Story of The Somervell County Courthouse. Somervell:
Somervell Historical Commission, 1987.
Texas Historical Commission, Texas Historic Sites Atlas. http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/,
Copyright © 2003 by Sam
Fenstermacher All rights reserved