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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

CHAMBERS COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Anahuac, Texas

Chambers County has had four courthouses:
1858, 1886 - Wallisville
1912, 1936 - Anahuac

Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse
Chambers County Courthouse
Front entrance facing Washington Ave.
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010

The Courthouses of Chambers County

by Terry Jeanson

Although Anglo settlement of this area started decades before, Chambers County wasn’t officially organized until 1858, cut from Liberty and Jefferson counties. The county’s first courthouse was built in the first county seat of Wallisville in 1858, but it was destroyed by an arsonist in December of 1875, taking with it most of the county records. The 1869 school house, restored and still standing in the Wallisville Heritage Park, served as the courthouse until the county's second courthouse was built in 1886.

The 1886 courthouse was constructed of brick and stone in the Renaissance Revival style by contractor August Baumbach. A brick jail was built nearby in 1894 with a tower for the gallows that was never used. The design of the jail was almost exactly the same as the historic 1892 Crockett County jail still standing in Ozona, TX. A dispute over roaming livestock in Wallisville, known as the "County Seat Hog War," led to an election that relocated the county seat to Anahuac in 1908. A 1915 hurricane almost destroyed Wallisville and severely damaged the courthouse and jail buildings. The 1894 jail was torn down and the 1886 courthouse was finally demolished in 1948.

The county's third courthouse was completed in the new county seat of Anahuac in 1912. The Classical Revival style brick building was designed by F.W. Steinmar and served the county until it burned down on April 28, 1935.

The fourth and current courthouse was built in 1936 with shell limestone in an Art-Moderne style and designed by Houston architect Corneil G. Curtis, who also designed the 1931 Liberty County courthouse. Partially funded by the WPA, the $276,000 project included a jail on the top floor that was used until 1983. The 1936 courthouse has many examples of Art-Deco ornamentation and retains most of its original exterior and interior appearance.


Sources:
The Texas Historical Commission - http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/shell-county.htm,
The Wallisville Heritage Park - http://www.wallisville.com/ and
"Wanted: Historic County Jails of Texas" by Edward A. Blackburn, Jr.

©
Terry Jeanson
October 27, 2010

The Present Chambers County Courthouse
- Anahuac, Texas

Date - 1936
Architect - Cornell G. Curtis

Style - Moderne
Material - Limestone and cement
Location - Anahuac

The 1936 Chambers County Courthouse is a WPA project on Washington Ave and Stonewall St. It is impossible to miss since there are few competing structures in town.
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County courthouse vintage photo
Chambers County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse
Detail over the front entrance
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse architectural details - Medallions
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse architectural details
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse eagle
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010
More Texas Eagles
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse art deco lampost
"Art-Deco style lamppost at the front entrance. Unfortunately, the glass panels in many of the lampposts have been broken."
- Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse staircase
"The interior of the courthouse still has its original tile, marble wainscoting and Art-Deco style chandeliers."
- Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse courtroom
"The judge's pulpit in the district courtroom. The inset at the top right of this picture shows some of the Art-Deco style ornamentation in the woodwork behind the judge's bench."
- Terry Jeanson, October 2010
Anahuac TX - Chambers County Courthouse cornerstone
1936 Chambers County Courthouse cornerstone
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010
More Texas Cornerstones

The Third Chambers County Courthouse - 1912
Anahuac, Texas

"The county's third courthouse was completed in the new county seat of Anahuac in 1912. The Classical Revival style brick building was designed by F.W. Steinmar and served the county until it burned down on April 28, 1935." - Terry Jeanson
Anahuac TX - 1912 Chambers County Courthouse
The 1912 Chambers County Courthouse in Anahuac
Photo courtesy of the Wallisville Heritage Park.

The Second Chambers County Courthouse, 1886 -
Wallisville, Texas
"The 1886 courthouse was constructed of brick and stone in the Renaissance Revival style by contractor August Baumbach. A brick jail was built nearby in 1894 with a tower for the gallows that was never used. The design of the jail was almost exactly the same as the historic 1892 Crockett County jail still standing in Ozona, TX. A dispute over roaming livestock in Wallisville, known as the "County Seat Hog War," led to an election that relocated the county seat to Anahuac in 1908. A 1915 hurricane almost destroyed Wallisville and severely damaged the courthouse and jail buildings. The 1894 jail was torn down and the 1886 courthouse was finally demolished in 1948." - Terry Jeanson
Wallisville Texas - 1886 Chambers County Courthouse

1886 Chambers County courthouse in Wallisville
Photo courtesy of the Wallisville Heritage Park.

Wallisville Texas - 1886 Chambers County Courthouse
A collector's plate in the current courthouse shows the 1894 Chambers County jail (top left) and the 1886 Chambers County courthouse (bottom right.)
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, October 2010

"The county’s first courthouse was built in the first county seat of Wallisville in 1858, but it was destroyed by an arsonist in December of 1875, taking with it most of the county records.

The 1869 school house, restored and still standing in the Wallisville Heritage Park, served as the courthouse until the county's second courthouse was built in 1886." - Terry Jeanson
Wallisville TX - 1869 Schoolhouse
"This restored 1869 school house, now sitting in the Wallisville Heritage Park, served as the courthouse after the county's first courthouse burned down in 1875."
- Terry Jeanson, October 2010

See Anahuac, Texas | Wallisville |
Chambers County
More Texas Courthouses

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