couple of grand old ladies, both with identical nicknames, are getting
facelifts on different ends of East
In Red River
County, one of East
Texas' oldest and northernmost counties, the courthouse
is undergoing a renovation deserving of its history. And as a part
of the renovation, the courthouse clock, nicknamed Old Red,
is scheduled to be rebuilt.
Built in 1885, the courthouse
boasts turrets and buttresses of mellow yellow stone cut from a quarry
near Honey Grove.
Because its architecture is part Victorian, part Gothic, and part
Italian Renaissance, someone once described it as Late 19th Century
Debatable. The courthouse clock ticked from 2:30 p.m. on May 27, 1885,
until it developed troubles and was electrified in 1961. This saved
the janitor of 30 minutes of hard winding once a week, but four months
later, at 4:35 a.m. on a June morning, Old Red started striking and
struck her bells 120 time before someone pulled the plug.
A town wag described it as the night that got later than it ever has
Red River County Courthouse Tower, Clarksville
TE photo, 2000
150 miles south of Clarksville,
in the small town of Trinity
on a peninsula of Lake Livingston, another Old Red is getting a new
Trinity's Old Red is a schoolhouse built in 1911-13.
During its life, the red-brick building served thousands of Trinity
The building had been abandoned as a school and was becoming a community
eyesore until its former students stepped in and raised some $100,000
to restore it with a new exterior, new woodwork, and other improvements.
With the exterior completed, the Save Old Red Committee will turn
the building back to its owner, the Trinity Independent School District,
for interior remodeling.
Old Red's rescue might not have happened if Raymond Smith,
who attended school inside Old Red in the 1940s. He got involved in
1993 with other ex-students when they learned of the building's possible
Old Red served as Trinity's
only school building until 1928 when a second two-story structure
was built next door to house the town's junior high and high school.
Although Old Red's bricks were later painted yellow, their original
red color gave the school its nickname. The building was built in
the shape of a T to capture wind from any direction it could blow
The building had 91 wooden windows, which were copied by the remodeling
crews, many of which were made up of Old Red's former students.
"When I found out Old Red had been condemned and was going to be torn
down, it really tugged at my heart," said Smith.