157 of 254 Collin County Courthouse, McKinney, Texas. County Population: 782,341 and counting...
"The absence of organized Indian resistance, combined with the county's fertile soil and an offer of land grants by the Peters colony attracted settlers to the area in the early 1840s. Even with the offer of free land, the estimated population of the county was only 150 when it was demarked from Fannin County on April 3, 1846, and named for Collin McKinney, one of the first settlers of the county and a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. The original county seat was Buckner. Because this town Buckner was not within three miles of the center of the county, however, McKinney became the county seat in 1848. Like the county, McKinney was named for Collin McKinney.
"For the first thirty years of the county's history farmers had little incentive to take advantage of the fertile soil of the Blackland Prairie, considered the richest agricultural region of Texas. Between the 1840s and 1870s the lack of transportation facilities, limited markets, and absence of mechanized farm equipment restricted the agricultural production of the county. The arrival of the railroad removed these obstacles and initiated a fifty-year period of economic growth. In 1872 the Houston and Texas Central Railway, the first to reach the county, connected McKinney and Plano to tracks that reached as far south as Houston."
David Minor, "COLLIN COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online
Collin McKinney, a land surveyor, is credited with insisting that as new counties were created in North Texas, the boundaries should be straight.
I visited Collin County and photographed the courthouses in McKinney on Thursday, June 28, 2012 and again on Sunday, August 19, 2012.
Collin County Courthouse 1876
Collin County Courthouse 1927
The 1876 Collin County courthouse was designed by Charles Wheelock, Architect. The Contractor was O.J. King. The Second Empire styled building occupied a block in the center of McKinney, the county seat. Surrounded by the McKinney commercial district, the courthouse still survives, although in 1927 the building was completely altered. The "new" courthouse, by Sparger & Peters, Architects and A.J. Rife, Contractor, is a restrained, neo-classical style, with no relationship to the 1876 design, save for the building footprint.
In 1979 a new Collin County courthouse opened a few blocks away from the historic courthouse square. The historic courthouse was eventually taken over by the city of McKinney and, in 2006, was transformed into the McKinney Performing Arts Center by Architexas.
Collin County Courthouse 1979
The Dallas architectural firm Jarvis Putty Jarvis designed this courthouse for Collin County. When it opened, the county's population was144,576. By 2000 the population had grown to 491,675! The Texas Historical Commission described the style as "brutalism" and tried in vain to have the building saved after the county, growing in population by leaps and bounds, decided to erect yet another courthouse in 2006.
Alas, the building, purchased by the city of McKinney for $8 million for use as a city hall, was instead, abandoned and neglected.
(The Texas Historic Commision fined the county $1,000 for not giving the state advance notice of its plans to sell the courthouse to the city.)
The city, after consultants estimated the cost to renovate the 1979 building at $36.4 million, decided to demolish the courthouse and build a new, less expensive city hall. In 2010 the 31 year old courthouse came down.
The property is now occupied by grass, trees and parking spaces.