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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

ERATH COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Stephenville, Texas

Erath County has had three courthouses:
1856, 1876, 1892
See Erath County Courthouse Historical Marker

The Present Erath County Courthouse
- Stephenville, Texas

Date - 1892
Architect - J. Riely Gordon.
Style - Romanesque Revival
Material - Locally-quarried limestone accented with Pecos sandstone
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Erath County courthouse Stephenville Texas vintage photo
Erath County Courthouse
1939 Photo courtesy TXDoT

Erath County Courthouse

by Sam Fenstermacher

The Erath County Courthouse is a substantial three story edifice constructed of local white limestone and red Pecos sandstone. The tower of the building extends to a height of 95 feet, and the building's base measures 60 by 80 feet.

This building presents a variation on a traditional theme in early Texas courthouses of intersecting halls on the first floor dividing the first floor space into four major areas. The twist is that the tower walls extend down through the center of the building creating an open central space on the first floor. This central space or atrium has no immediate ceiling and is open to the second and third floors.

Iron staircases on the east and west sides of the building provide access to the upper levels. The district courtroom occupies the south side of the building on the second and third floors. This courtroom features a high ceiling that arches above to the third story balcony.

The Erath County Courthouse underwent extensive restoration in 2002 and the work was nearly complete in January of 2003.
Erath County courthouse  tower
Courthouse tower
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2003
Erath county courthouse courtroom

Courtroom
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2003

Erath county courthouse balcony
Courtroom balcony
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2003
Erath county courthouse tower
Courthouse tower interior
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2003
Erath county courthouse window
Window view
Photo courtesy Sam Fenstermacher, 2003
Copyright 2003 by Sam Fenstermacher, All rights reserved
Bibliography: Texas Historical Commission, Texas Historic Sites Atlas. "http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/, 2003.

See also: Erath County courthouse by Lou Ann Herda, Ed. D.
Historical Marker:

Erath County Courthouse

Founded in 1854 and named for early settler and land donor John M. Stephen, the town of Stephenville became county seat when Erath County was created in 1856.

The first county courthouse, a wood frame structure built in 1856, was destroyed by fire in 1866. By 1890 Erath County was experiencing an economic boom. The railroad had reached this area in 1889, and local business increased as shipping opportunities improved. County commissioners called for bids to design a new courthouse in 1891. J. Riely Gordon submitted the winning design. The construction contract was awarded to S. A. Tomlinson of Fort Worth. Gordon, who became a nationally known architect, had designed two earlier buildings on the town square (the First National Bank and the Crow Opera House). He is well known for his Texas courthouse designs.

A distinctive rendition of the Romanesque Revival style, this courthouse, completed in 1892, features striking use of locally-quarried limestone accented with Pecos sandstone. A 1988 restoration project included the addition of an adjacent courthouse annex. The central clock tower of the historic courthouse has been the most prominent feature of the surrounding landscape for more than a century.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1963

1876 Erath County Courthouse
- Stephenville, Texas

Contractor - J. D. Parnell & J. J. Porter
Demolished for new courthouse in 1891

1856 Erath County Courthouse
- Stephenville, Texas

First Courthouse
Destroyed by fire in 1866
See also:
Erath County courthouse
by Lou Ann Herda, Ed. D.

See Stephenville, Texas | Erath County
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