010 of 254: Bastrop County Courthouse, Bastrop, Texas. County Population: 74,171
"With an early road between Nacogdoches and San Antonio running through the region, in 1804 Spanish governor Manuel Antonio Cordero y Bustamante established a fort at the Colorado River crossing where the town of Bastrop now stands. The Baron de Bastrop planned a German community at the site, but it was not until after Stephen F. Austin obtained a grant for a "Little Colony" from the Mexican government in 1827 that settlement began. Pioneers met with intense Indian resistance, but by 1830 the town of Bastrop, named for the baron, had been founded and settlers from Austin's lower colonies were clearing farms over the southern portion of the county.
"In 1831 Austin received a second land grant; the two grants, Mina Municipality, took in almost all of what is now Bastrop County. The district was presumably named in honor of Spanish general Francisco Xavier Mina. In 1834 the vast municipality, comprising all or part of sixteen present-day counties, was established by the government of Coahuila and Texas, and the town of Bastrop also took the name Mina. When Texas became a republic, Mina Municipality assumed its place as one of twenty-three original counties. In 1837 the Congress of the Republic of Texas changed the county name to Bastrop in honor of the baron and allowed the town to revert to the name as well. Congress also began whittling away at the boundaries of the huge county; in 1840, when Travis County was formed, Bastrop County shrank almost to its present dimensions."
Paula Mitchell Marks, "BASTROP COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online
Bastrop is located on Texas Highway 71, the heavily traveled route connecting Austin and Houston. The town straddles the Colorado River and, to the east, is bounded by the Lost Pines, "a disjunct population of Pinus taeda L. located in Central Texas near Bastrop at the westernmost edge of the species' natural range. The narrow belt of loblolly pines stretches some thirteen miles across and is thought to be an ancient resident of Central Texas, perhaps part of a larger pine forest that shrank in size during or after the Pleistocene or so-called Ice Age." I visited Bastrop County and photographed the courthouse on May 24, 2009, on September 3, 2011 and on January 23, 2013. Unfortunately, a serious forest fire, the most destructive such fire in Texas history, destroyed a large portion of the Lost Pines on September 4, 2011, the year of the epic Texas drought. I happened to be returning to Houston that afternoon and drove into the fire zone, and then, when I realize the danger, turned around and quickly left the area. Here's my video of the fire on youtube.
Bastrop County Courthouse 1883
"The Bastrop County Courthouse, dominating Bastrop's courthouse square, is surrounded by small residential buildings making for a rather slow-paced setting, as compared to the typical commercial surroundings of most other small Texas courthouse towns.
"The Bastrop County Courthouse is a three-story, stuccoed brick, Neo-classical Revival structure with a copper-domed clock tower in the center of a flat roof. Designed by J. W. Preston and Sons and reviewed by F. E. Ruffini, the courthouse was built in 1883-1884 and utilized the traditional cross-corridor plan of Victorian courthouse design.
"Extensive remodeling, including new floors, modern heating, lighting and
plumbing at the cost of $53,000, was completed in 1924. At this time the dome was lowered and various architectural details were removed. A modern effort for more office space and a Commissioner's courtroom resulted in the addition of a wing to the south of the original building in 1953-1954 by the Austin architectural firm of Page, Southerland and Page. In 1971 a new jail and sheriff's office were built on the courthouse square immediately to the southeast of the courthouse."
From the National Register narrative
The original courthouse design was "borrowed" by Mitchell County in west Texas, for its courthouse, completed in 1885.