Friday, August 9, 2013

Texas Courthouses are Beautiful to Look at and Rich in History

If you are interested in vintage architecture or Texas history, you will be astounded at the beautiful and historic courthouses we have here in Texas. 

Our Texas courthouses have inspired books, websites, blogs and at least public television documentary. 

Leonard G. Lane, a Houston architect, maintains a site called "254 Texas Courthouses".  He tells us that there are 254 counties in Texas and more than 234 courthouses that are over 50 years old. Mr. Lane is in the process of visiting and photographing all of them.   This excellent site contains not only beautiful photos, but interesting information about the architecture and history of each building, and chronicles his connection with other Texas courthouse photographers.  

Another excellent site is  This site is meant to encourage tourism and appreciation of Texas history and has links to other historical buildings, as well as information on what is to be found in the area around each courthouse.   Here is a link to a photo of my favorite courthouse, the Victoria County Courthouse. 

Public television produced and aired a documentary titled, "Texas Courthouses; The Golden Age."  The DVD is available from PBS, on Amazon, and is often sold in the gift shops of Texas historical sites. 

Excellent books on this subject include  "Courthouses of Texas" by Dr. Mavis Kelsey and "Historic Texas Courthouses" by Andrews, Hester & Hardaway. 

Some of the most beautiful courthouses were built between 1881 and 1900.  Inside of these buildings you can see art deco design, rich wooden railings, oaken door frames, marble floors, vintage tile design, Texas limestone,  and other materials and craftsmanship  no longer evident in modern buildings.

In addition to the beauty of the courthouses themselves, the areas surrounding the courthouses often contain murals, artwork, or historical markers.  Here is a photo of a mural which appears on the walkover bridge between two courthouse buildings in Conroe, Montgomery County, Texas. 

photo by Mariana Martinez (c) 2013

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