and photos by Terry Jeanson
April 2, 1909, the county commissioners of Rains County accepted their newly completed
courthouse. Over 100 years
later, the courthouse has
now been restored to its original condition as part of the Texas Historical Commission’s
Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. According to a press release from
the THC, Rains County received a total of $2.44 million in grant money towards
the courthouse’s restoration, $1.95 million of which was provided in during Round
IV of the program in May of 2004.
Graves, director of architecture for the Texas Historical Commission, presents
Judge Dougherty with the Rains County courthouse restoration plaque" - Terry
centennial celebration and rededication ceremony for the courthouse
was held on October 17, 2009 with hundreds of county residents and visitors enjoying
early 20th century musical numbers from banjo, guitar and fiddle players and singers
from the Rains County community choir. Many long time residents were on hand to
recount stories from the early days of Rains County while others took part in
a game of dominoes under a tree at the northeast corner of the building. Courthouse
tours beginning at 10:00AM were conducted by members of the Rains County Historical
Commission, dressed in the attire of the time period that the courthouse was built.
At noon, barbecue sandwiches were served under a tent north of the square and
there were several booths with items for sale, including a Christmas ornament
depicting the restored courthouse. A blown-up photo of the courthouse was also
available for every attendee to sign.
blown-up photo of the restored courthouse
was provided for all of the attendees to sign. (My signature is at the top of
the pediment between the center of the dome and the Texas flag.)" - Terry
mayor Cay House tells the history of the county's courthouses
in the district courtroom. Mayor House is the great-great-granddaughter of the
namesake of the county and county seat, Emory
Rains. Both of her parents were also local jurists. Her mother was one of
the people who insisted that they protect the courthouse's
original architectural features as much as possible during past renovations."
Potts of Rains County Historical Commission
Photo courtesy Terry
rededication ceremony began at 1:00 PM with county officials and members of the
Texas Historical Commission seated on either side of a podium at the southwest
entrance. Some of the distinguished guests included U.S. Congressman Ralph Hall
and State Senator Robert Deuell, who participated in the presentation of new U.S.
and Texas flags to be flown at the courthouse which were raised by a local boy
scout troop. After the singing of the national anthem and state song, County Judge
Joe Dougherty took to the podium to address the crowd. Afterwards, Stan Graves,
Director of Architecture for the THC, presented Judge Dougherty with the courthouse’s
restoration plaque, which was followed by the rededication of the cornerstone
by the Grand Lodge of Texas Ancient Free & Accepted Masons.
The cool and
sunny weather provided a great backdrop for the occasion and everyone seemed to
be enjoying themselves, myself included. I got the feeling that a majority of
the people there were very pleased with the restoration efforts, as I kept overhearing
people comment “it sure looks better than it used to.” This was the first Texas
courthouse rededication that I attended and everyone I met during my visit was
very welcoming. The pride that the people of Emory
displayed for their courthouse
that morning was infectious and I was glad to be able to be a part of it.
Jeanson, October 20, 2009
County Courthouse | Emory, Texas