049 of 254: Cameron County Courthouse, Brownsville, Texas. County Population: 406,220
"In early 1846 United States troops under the command of Gen. Zachary Taylor marched into the disputed territory between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande and constructed a defensive position across from Matamoros. The temporary fort was originally called Fort Texas but was renamed Fort Brown a short time later, in honor of Maj. Jacob Brown, who died during a Mexican attack on the stronghold.
"On February 12, 1848, the Texas legislature decreed the existence of Cameron County [named for Mier expedition member Capt. Ewen Cameron], and with the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo
on July 4 the area officially became part of the United States. The new county encompassed 3,308 square miles, including parts of the future Hidalgo, Willacy, Kenedy, and Brooks counties. An election of county officers was held on August 7, but organization was not completed until September 11. Santa Rita, five miles downstream from Fort Brown and believed to be the earliest English-speaking town in the area, was made the county seat. The same year Charles Stillman established Brownsville just west of Fort Brown. In December another election was held, and after intense effort on Stillman's part Brownsville was chosen county seat."
Alicia A. Garza and Christopher Long, "CAMERON COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online
I visited Cameron County and photographed the courthouse in Brownsville on June 14, 2010 and on September 26, 2014.
Cameron County Courthouse 1882
Cameron County Courthouse 1912
"The Cameron County Courthouse, built in 1912, is a fine example of a 20th century Classical Revival public building. Designed by Atlee B. Ayres, one of Texas' most eminent architects, the building is notable for its academic architectural detailing and striking interior. Much of the lavish terra cotta ornament is reminiscent of that used by Louis Sullivan.
"It has a three-story rotunda width art-glass dome plastic- relief ornament. The dome over the rotunda is art glass with decorated plaster ribs. A large
light fixture hangs from the center of the dome."
From the National Register listing narrative
The building was re-dedicated in October 2006 after a complete restoration funded through a Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program Grant.
The Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program Round IX Grant Recipients (July 22, 2016): Cameron County—$450,000 emergency grant award to address terra- cotta repairs on the façade of the 1912 courthouse. Cameron County restored the exterior of the 1912 courthouse in 1995-98. However, the terra cotta repairs including the stainless steel fasteners were only made in limited locations. The terra cotta has since further deteriorated, particularly the cornice, which is cracked and failing due to the corrosion of the masonry reinforcements.