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Dimmit County TX
Dimmit County

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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

DIMMIT COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Carrizo Springs

Dimmit County

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TX - 1884 Dimmit County Courthouse
The 1884 Dimmit County Courthouse today
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2005

Dimmit County Courthouse

Date - 1884
Original Architect - J.C. Breeding
Original Style - Italianate
Style after 1927 remodeling - Classical Revival
Material - Stone
See Dimmit County Courthouse Historical Marker

Dimmitt County Courthouse History

By Terry Jeanson

Although the county was officially organized in 1880, plans for the building of a permanent courthouse did not begin until the end of 1883. Alfred Giles was selected to design the courthouse, but the contractors bids for his plans were deemed too expensive. The court decided, instead, to hire San Antonio architects J.C. Breeding & Sons. After its completion in 1884, it was obvious to many that the courthouse reflected the design Alfred Giles had submitted with cost-cutting omissions, such as a tower over the main entrance on the south side. Although it canít be proven, as neither of the architectís original plans survive, J.C. Breeding & Sons most likely based their design on Gilesí plans. This led Giles to sue Dimmit County in October of 1884 and the suit was settled out of court for $400.00.

The 1884 courthouse remained virtually unchanged for many years until the 1920s when the growing county needed a new, larger courthouse. San Antonio architect Henry T. Phelps, who had already designed courthouses in the nearby counties of Frio, Atascosa and Jim Hogg, was hired for the job in December of 1925, but instead of demolishing the old courthouse, it was decided to enlarge it. The features of the original Italianate style building, such as the hipped, mansard roof and double-gallery wood porch at the south side entrance, were removed and the north and south sides of the building were extended. The main entrance to the building was moved to the west side with the addition of four ionic columns and a recessed porch. A cornice with dentils, an entablature with St. Johnís crosses ornamenting it and a parapet over the main entrance with the county name, completed the transformation of the building to a Classical Revival style. The St. Johnís cross motif can also be seen in the upper part of the second floor windows. The center of the rear of the building and a portion of the wall inside the recessed front porch survive from the original 1884 structure. The buildingís new cornerstone was laid on September 29, 1926 and the building was completed on March 29, 1927.

Very few changes were made to the courthouse after 1927. Some of these changes included new exterior doors, repairs to the leaking roof and the laying of terrazzo on the ground floor. In 1995, a three foot section of the deteriorating cornice fell from the roof over the north side entrance. This resulted in an emergency repair grant from the Texas Historical Commission in 1997. An inspection of the building at that time revealed many problems due to age and improper maintenance. In February of 2002, the county was awarded a grant from the Texas Historical Commission for $2,403,913.00 for the restoration of the courthouse to its 1927 condition. The work was completed and the courthouse was rededicated on November 18, 2004.


Terry Jeanson, July 26, 2008
Sources: Master Plan for the Restoration of the Dimmit County Courthouse by Frank Architects, Inc., Laredo, Texas, March 2000.
Dimmit County Courthouse, Carrizo Springs, Texas vintage photo
Dimmit County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
1884 Dimmit County courthouse  before remodeling, Carrizo Springs, Texas
The 1884 Dimmit County Courthouse before the 1927 remodeling. Photo courtesy THC, circa 1900
TX - Dimmit County Courthouse Historical Marker
Dimmit County Courthouse Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2005
TX - Dimmit County Courthouse
Dimmit County Courthouse back view
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2005
TX - Dimmit County Courthouse  1926 cornerstone
The 1926 cornerstone
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2007
More Texas Cornerstones
TX - Dimmit County Courthouse columns
Ionic columns at the front entrance
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2007
TX - Dimmit County Courthouse District Courtroom
The restored District Courtroom
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, April 2007
Dimmit County Courthouse detail
Dimmit County Courthouse detail
TE Photo, 2002
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