Brewster County Courthouse in Alpine is the only one they ever had (like neighboring
Marfa). It was built in 1877,
by an architect who has since been forgotten. It comes with a matching
jail and there's even a traditional piece of artillery on its east lawn. |
Your Hotel Here & Save: Alpine
view of the Brewster County Courthouse |
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, April 2002
courthouse today |
A freak ice-storm severely damaged the pecan trees
in September, 2000
TE Photo, August 2000
letter from Tommy R. Woodward, former Alpine resident and West Texas Historian:|
COURTHOUSE IN ALPINE COMPLETED IN 1887 BUT NO ONE SEEMS
TO KNOW WHO BUILT IT.
No one seems to
know who built the courthouse in Alpine. In 1940 when The Avalanche issued its
50th anniversary edition, an effort was made to find out who did the work, but
no body knew. The report, given then, is all that is known today-unless somebody
is keeping secrets.
On March 14, 1887, soon after Brewster County was
organized, the commissioners ordered that architects be contacted by letter to
discuss plans for a courthouse and jail, the former to cost no more than $12,000
to $15,000, and the jail to cost no more than $12,000.
A little later
bonds were voted in the sum of $28,000, and either that amount or $27,000 was
expended for the two buildings - the courthouse and jail both stand today, giving
Two or three men got the contract for the buildings, but
all the scurrying around that has been possible for one newsman in a comparatively
limited time has failed to unearth the names of the contractors. Even the dependables
for old-time information - Judge Van Sickle, Mrs. Walter Garnett or Mrs. J. C.
Bird could not recall.
County Courthouse as it appeared in 1939|
Photo courtesy TXDoT
County Courthouse |
Postcard courtesy rootsweb.com/
However, it is said that the contractors burned their own bricks for the
building, or had a man to do the work. They were burned in kilns near Ranger canyon,
and the name of Harry Dryden kept bobbing up in connection with the job. Still,
it is not certain, so far as could be discovered, that Mr. Dryden ran the kiln.
He did burn bricks later, if not then, and it said the rear part, at least, of
the building on 5th Street, now occupied by the Stephenson laundry, which housed
the post office until four or five years ago was built of Dryden brick.
Mrs. J. C. Bird recalled distinctly however, and so did her nephew, James W. Walker,
that J.C. Bird burned the lime that made the mortar that held the bricks together.
This was done also, it is understood, somewhere near Ranger canyon, west of town.
The courthouse was finished probably in November 1887, and throughout its
construction the county commissioners met every few days, or at least quite often
as is shown by their minutes, but not a word could be found in regard to the contractors,
nor anything else relative to the construction.
Brewster County Courthouse rear view|
from the Alpine Avalanche 60th Anniversary, dated September 14, 1951)|
Also see: Woodward, Tommy R., "J. C. Bird: A Big Bend Pioneer."
The Journal of Big Bend Studies, Volume V, Alpine, Texas: Sul Ross State University
Press, January 1993, 15-36.
Final note: Mrs. J. C. Bird,
above mentioned, was my Great Aunt. - Tommy R. Woodward, Midland, November
sincere thanks to Mr. Woodward for his contribution.