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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

McMULLEN COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Tilden, Texas

McMullen County has had two courthouses: 1877 and 1930
See McMullen County Courthouse History by Terry Jeanson

State Hwy 16
68 miles S of San Antonio
23 miles W of Three Rivers


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TX - 1930 McMullen County courthouse
The 1930 McMullen County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
Courthouse History by Terry Jeanson:

McMULLEN COUNTY COURTHOUSE HISTORY

McMullen County was established from parts of Bexar, Atascosa, and Live Oak counties in 1858 and named for Irish empresario John McMullen, who failed in his attempts to settle the McMullen County area in the late 1820s, but founded the first San Patricio County seat of San Patricio in 1831. In 1858, settlers in McMullen County built some dwellings and roads around where Leoncita Creek and the Frio River came together and formed the town of Rio Frio, later named Dog Town in the early 1860s. (One explanation of this name holds that drunken cowboys on a shooting spree left about fifteen dead dogs on the street, but the name could also be attributed to the number of dogs used in the area to herd sheep and cattle.) The name of the town was changed again to Colfax in 1871. This was the county’s first permanent settlement. In 1862, the county was organized but later abandoned because of the rampant crime in the county. By the early 1870s, many ranches had been established, but continuous violence and criminal activity kept most people away. After an earlier attempt in 1873, McMullen County was organized again in 1877. That same year, Colfax was chosen as the county seat but the name was changed to Tilden, in honor of Samuel Jones Tilden (nicknamed “Whispering Sammy,”) who ran for President on the Democratic ticket in 1876 and lost to Rutherford B. Hayes in one of the most controversial U.S. Presidential elections.

The first courthouse for McMullen County was built in 1877. (The Texas Historical Commission lists the date for the first courthouse as ca. 1870.) It was a two-story wood frame building with a hipped roof and a staircase that led to a second floor porch. This courthouse burned down in 1929 and was replaced by a second courthouse in 1930 which is still in use today. The second courthouse was designed by Beeville architect William Charles Stephenson, Jr. in a Classical Revival style with Mission style influences. The rectangular structure is built of brick with a limestone water table, window lintels and sills. The entrances on the north, south and west sides have pedimented porticos supported by fluted Doric columns. The hipped roof is covered with red clay tiles and has curvilinear dormers in the center of each side. The building’s original corbeled chimneys have been removed and an addition was built to the rear (east side) of the building in 1964. The courthouse received further renovations in 1998.


- Terry Jeanson, December 4, 2014

Sources:
County history and biographical information from The Handbook of Texas Online.
County and Courthouse history from the TXGen Web Project
McMullen County History by Renee Pierce Smelley at
http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/ ~txmcmull/history/countyhistory.htm,
the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Sites Atlas at http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/shell-county.htm, and
The Courthouses of Texas by Mavis P.Kelsey Sr. and Donald H. Dyal, 2nd edition, 2007.

The Present McMullen County Courthouse
- Tilden, Texas

Date - 1930
Architect - William Charles Stephenson, Jr
Style - Classical Revival
Material - Brick
TX - 1930 McMullen County courthouse entrance
Front entrance to the courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
TX - 1930 McMullen County Courthouse dedication plaque
Courthouse dedication plaque
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
TX - 1930 McMullen County courthouse courtroom
McMullen County Courthouse District courtroom
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
McMullen County courthouse, Tilden Texas
McMullen County courthouse facing State Highway 16
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2007
1930 McMullen County courthouse, Tilden Texas with 1964 addition
1930 McMullen County courthouse with the 1964 rear addition
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2007
McMullen County Courthouse, Tilden, Texas
McMullen County courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
McMullen County Courthouse, Tilden, Texas
McMullen County Courthouse
TE Photo, April 2001

The 1877 McMullen County Courthouse

TX - McMullen County 1877 courthouse
Photo of the 1877 courthouse on display in the current courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
TX - McMullen County 1877 courthouse replica
Replica of the 1877 courthouse on display in the current courthouse.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
TX - McMullen County 1877 courthouse
Sign next to the replica of the 1877 courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, June 2009
See Tilden, Texas
McMullen County
More Texas Courthouses

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