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Texas | Architecture | Courthouses

KINNEY COUNTY COURTHOUSE
County Seat - Brackettville, Texas

Kinney County has had three courthouses: 1869, 1879 and 1910
1910  Kinney County Courthouse today, Brackettville TX
Kinney County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2009

Kinney County Courthouse - Brackettville, Texas

Date - 1910
Architect - L.L. Thurman of Dallas
Style - Beaux-Arts
Material - Brick
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
On the National Register of Historic Places

Historical Marker (501 N. Ann Street, Brackettville):

KINNEY COUNTY COURTHOUSE

Human inhabitation of Kinney County began thousands of years ago. Spanish expeditions through the area began in 1535 and continued throughout subsequent centuries. An attempt at establishing a Franciscan mission in 1775 failed, as did settlement by Dr. John Charles Beales in 1834.

Despite the hardships found in the area, Kinney County was carved out of Bexar County in 1850, two years before the U.S. Army opened Fort Clark as a frontier outpost. That same year, in 1852, local inhabitants established the Brackett settlement, named for Oscar B. Brackett who set up a stage stop, freight office and dry goods store to service the stage line from San Antonio to El Paso.

Named for early settler and adventurer Henry Lawrence Kinney, Kinney County did not formally organize for 21 years; officials first met in Brackett's home in 1873. Brackettville, as the town had come to be called, was chosen as the county seat. Subsequent meetings were held in the Kartes and Co. building until 1879, when the county's first courthouse was built. The county used the 1879 building, which later housed a post office and Masonic lodge, until 1911. That year, the county first occupied this courthouse, designed by L.L. Thurmon and Co. of Dallas. Falls City Construction Co. of Louisville, Kentucky, served as General Contractor.

The Kinney County Courthouse exhibits Beaux Arts Classicism. Detailing seen on the central bell tower is repeated on the octagonal corner towers and columned entryways. Buff brick is accented with D'Hanis red brick banding and corner quoins. The Seth Thomas clock in the bell tower completes the building, which, after some alterations, still demonstrates the massing, style and design selected by the early county commissioners.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2003
1910  Kinney County Courthouse, Brackettville TX
East view of Kinney County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2009
Photographer's Note:
It is not uncommon for people to approach me when I am photographing county courthouses. They generally fall into two categories. Those who understand my interest and those who don't.

During my visit to Brackettville in January of 2009, I met Tully Shahan and he definitely falls into the former category. After working at the courthouse for over thirty years, he now has his own law office across from the courthouse. He encouraged me to explore the interior and look at the copies of the original blueprints for the courthouse which are framed and hanging on the walls on the first and second floors. A close examination of these blueprints reveal changes that have been made to the building over the years, but the courthouse maintains much of its original exterior condition without any modern additions. Designed in a Beaux-Arts style, the courthouse was completed in 1911, built mostly of buff brick with D’Hanis red brick on the corner quoins. The most striking features of this building are the octagonal towers framing the front entrance and the octagonal clock tower. The clock tower received some restoration work in 2005. Mr. Shahan told me that the clock still works, but the county does not have anyone who can wind it on a regular basis.

Mr. Shahan seemed disappointed that there weren’t more people that were interested in maintaining and restoring the courthouse, which is nearly 100 years old, but he seemed optimistic for the building’s future. It wasn’t until after my discussion with Mr. Shahan that I discovered that he is the son of Virginia Webb Shahan and James T. “Happy” Shahan on whose ranch the Alamo Village was built for the 1960 John Wayne movie, “The Alamo.” A six time mayor of Brackettville, Happy Shahan is honored with a plaque inside the courthouse which denotes him as the “Father of the Texas Film Industry” and the man who made Brackettville “The Movie Capitol of Texas.” - Terry Jeanson, January 14, 2009
1910  Kinney County Courthouse clock tower, Brackettville TX
The courthouse clock tower, which received some restoration work in 2005. Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson
Kinney County Courthouse Seth Thomas clockworks, Brackettville TX
"The Seth Thomas clockworks (with a date of November 5th, 1910) sits in a case outside of the district courtroom. Although working, there is currently no one available to wind it on a regular basis." - Terry Jeanson, January 2009
1910  Kinney County Courthouse, Brackettville TX
Northwest view of Kinney County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2009
1910 Kinney County Courthouse  near completion in Brackettville Texas
The 1910 Kinney County Courthouse nearing completion
Photo courtesy THC
Brackettville TX - 1910  Kinney County Courthouse old photo
Kinney County Courthouse as it appered in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT

The 1879 Kinney County Courthouse
- Brackettville, Texas

Brackettville TX 1879 Kinney County Courthouse today
The 1879 former Kinney County Courthouse
Photo courtesy Terry Jeanson, January 2009
"This building on the courthouse square was built in 1878-79 and served as the first county-owned courthouse. When the current courthouse was completed in 1911, this building served as the headquarters of the Las Moras Masonic Lodge. The first floor was used as a post office from 1918 to 1983." - Terry Jeanson
The 1879 Kinney County Courthouse, Brackettville, Texas vintage photo
Early image of the 1879 Kinney County Courthouse
Vintage photo courtesy THC
The 1869 Kinney County Courthouse
- Brackettville, Texas
The 1869 Kinney County Courthouse, Brackettville, Texas  vintage photo
The 1869 Kinney County Courthouse
Old Photo courtesy THC
See Brackettville, Texas
Kinney County Jail
Kinney County
More Texas Courthouses

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