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 Texas : Architecture : Courthouses : Fayetteville

The Fayetteville Precinct Courthouse

Fayetteville, Texas

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark

By John Troesser
Fayetteville TX Precinct Courthouse - Night and Day
Night and Day
Courthouse at night by J. Griffis Smith
TE photo, May 2010
The Texas Legislature once passed a law stating that county seats be centered within 5 miles of the geographic center of the county. This was to equally distribute the distance people had to travel to conduct business, vote or attend hangings. Like most laws in Texas, it was met with varying degrees of compliance.

In counties like Fayette where the population was equally dispersed, it made sense to have separate voting precincts in the population centers. Sometimes court was held or voting was conducted in local stores or public buildings. Citizens of Fayette County went a step further by voluntarily building entirely separate buildings for voting and conducting county business. They were also used for a variety of town functions.
Fayetteville Texas  Precinct courthouse
The Restored Courthouse was re-dedicated in June of 2002. TE Photo 12-02
Three towns in Fayette County built precinct courthouses - Fayetteville, Round Top and Winchester. A fire destroyed the Round Top building, which has been replaced with a replica, and Winchester's has long ago turned into a barn. Only Fayetteville has an original structure - making it the only one in Texas.

The Fayetteville Precinct 2 Courthouse was built in 1880 for the cost of $800. $600 was raised by citizens themselves while the balance came from county funds. A ball was held to raise money to paint the building.
Fayetteville Texas precinct courthouse clock tower
The Courthouse Clock was added in 1934 with funds raised by the Do-Your-Duty Club
Robert Ripley once reported Fayetteville as being the smallest town in America having a chiming clock on it's square. The story of how Fayetteville got its clock is worth mentioning since it sparked a war of words between the women of the town who raised the money for the clock and the men who (after the money was raised) wanted to spend it on sidewalks. Sidewalks eventually appeared, but the clock was installed first.

A few feet beneath the clock tower - on the building's second floor are two cells which were added in 1887. These were usually occupied by over-imbibing saloon patrons - almost every one of them from out of town. Detainees facing more serious charges were transferred to La Grange.

You needed to start drinking early if you wanted to be sure of getting a cell in Fayetteville. A chain bolted to the floor in front of the cells held inmates who arrived after the cells were occupied.

Legend has it that a prisoner was once shot dead in his cell by someone firing a gun through the window.
Fayetteville TX Courthouse painting by Clovis Heimsath
Painting of courthouse by Clovis Heimsath
TE photo, May 2010

Fayetteville in Art
Fayetteville TX Precinct Courthouse - R.B. Spacek sign
Rudolph Spacek, kept his office in the courthouse - his sign now a permanent part of the interior. TE photo, 12-02
Fayetteville TX precinct courthouse jury box
Jury seating seems to have been appropriate to the courthouse's size.
TE photo 12-02
The walls of the courthouse are cedar boards and the windows are original poured sheet glass. A utilitarian staircase leads to the two jail cells and the clock is reached - only if it's really necessary.
Fayetteville Tx Centennial Marker and Precinct Courthouse
Photo courtesy Barclay Gibson, 2009
Fayetteville 1936 Centennial Marker
Fayette County Justice of Peace office
Fayette Co. JP Office on the Square now houses The Rural Art Guild of Texas. TE photo, 12-02
Fayetteville Texas town square - Old water tower foundation
The foundations of the old water tower on the square
TE photo
The foundations of the old water tower remain in place on the NE side of the square and a metal tower still supports the old fire siren which until recently always announced 12 noon.
Historical Marker Text

Fayette County Precinct No. 2 Courthouse

Fayetteville citizens raised $600.00 in private funds, received $200.00 in tax money from the County Commissioners' Court, and built this Victorian precinct Courthouse in 1880. A ball held in the new building netted funds for painting. The 2-cell calaboose upstairs was completed in 1887. A ladies' club donated the clock in 1934. In early Texas, precinct Courthouses were very rare.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1977
John Troesser
TE thanks Fayetteville historian Louis Polansky for providing information on the courthouse and opening it upon short notice.
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