Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
Photo courtesy Steve
Texas legislature created Wharton
County in 1846, incorporating part of Stephen
F. Austin’s original land grant from Mexico. The William Kincheloe
family donated land on the east bank of the Colorado River for a courthouse
square, and the home of first county treasurer Daniel Kincheloe served
as a temporary courthouse.
A framed building (1848) and two-story brick building (1852) served
as courthouses on Monterey Square until the county considered a new
edifice in the 1880s. Judge W.J. Croom favored a new building, while
“Shanghai” Pierce and G.C. Duncan led several landowners in signing
a petition and filing injunctions to stop the
county from proceeding. In 1888, the commissioners court ordered
plans from Houston architect
T. Heiner for a courthouse and jail. Heiner, a founding member
of the Texas State Association of Architects in 1886, also designed
Judge Croom’s home (1895), Wharton Public School (1899), and other
public, commercial and residential buildings in Texas.
Litigation delayed construction on the courthouse until November 1888.
Completed in August 1889, it featured Second Empire and Italianate
styling, including a mansard roof decorated with pediments, truncated
roofs, limestone detailing, arched windows, corner quoins, and a tall
central clock tower. The salmon-colored brick came from Colorado River
clay deposits. Major alterations by architects J.W. Dahnert (1935)
and Wyatt C. Hedrick (1949) resulted in new wings and entries, removal
of features, and stucco exterior finish in the Moderne style. The
altered structure served the county until the 21st century, when a
unique and far-reaching preservation effort resulted in its full restoration.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2007
Photo circa 1900 courtesy THC
Courthouse as it appeared in 1939
Photo courtesy TXDoT
1888 design by famed architect Eugene
Heiner. Bricks were made from clay from the Colarado River banks.
Built to replace an 1851 structure, the building has been drastically
altered over the years to the point it no longer resembles Heiner's
work. The bell tower was removed, but fortunately the bell has been
saved and was ready for restoration.
Wharton County Courthouse has been restored to its original state.
This courthouse joins Halletteville
as the only two Heiner
works that are as the architect intended.
Courthouse today (after restoration)
Photo courtesy George Shaffer, March 2006
Courthouse under restoration
Photo courtesy Wharton County Historical Commission, May 2005
Courthouse under restoration
Photo courtesy Wharton County Historical Commission,
Photo by A.C.Shelton, October 2005
|View of the old
Wharton courthouse in the late 1800’s.
Photo courtesy Wharton County Historical Museum
Courthouse Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Barclay
Gibson, February 2009
County Courthouse Restoration
We are still in the restoration process. The outside is probably
85 percent finished and now we are on phase 2 which is in interior.
Project completion is projected for May or June 2006. - AC Shelton,
Chairperson, Wharton County Historical Commission, October 17, 2005
As of today
all personnel from the Wharton County Courthouse are being moved
to their new office buildings so that renovations can begin, returning
to the original 1885. We are excited. - Billie Jones, Wharton Chamber,
December 09, 2002