179 of 254 Brewster County Courthouse, Alpine, Texas. County Population: 9,232
"Brewster County, [at 6,169 square miles] the largest county in Texas, is located in the Trans-Pecos region of West Texas, and is the site of Big Bend National Park, the largest park in the state.
"For much of the nineteenth century the presence of Comanche raiding parties on their way to and from Mexico combined with the forbidding local topography to discourage European exploration of the Big Bend.
"In response to [Indian] threats officials at Fort Davis established Camp Peña Colorado a few miles south of the future site of Marathon in 1879.
"The burgeoning cattle industry got a major boost in 1882, when the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railway built through the area.
"Several towns sprang up along the rails, the most significant of which were
Alpine, then called Murphyville, and Marathon.
"In 1887, Brewster County was marked off from Presidio County, as were Jeff Davis, Buchel, and Foley counties. Brewster County was named for Henry P. Brewster, secretary of war under David G. Burnet. Buchel and Foley counties were not organized and were attached to Brewster County for judicial purposes. Murphyville [Alpine] was selected as county seat.
"By 1897 Buchel and Foley counties had still not been organized, and in that year their territory was officially added to that of Brewster County, making the latter the largest county in Texas.
Martin Donell Kohout, "BREWSTER COUNTY," Handbook of Texas Online
Brewster County is larger in area than the states of Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut.
I visited Brewster County and photographed the courthouse in Alpine on March 22, 23 and 24, 2013. I spent two nights at the restored Holland Hotel.
Brewster County Courthouse 1888
"Constructed in 1887, the Brewster County courthouse is an interesting local "vernacular" interpretation of an architectural idiom which was to become known as the American Second Empire Style. This two-and-one- half story brick building laid in Common bond is rectangular in massing with thin, elongated pavilions advancing slightly from the center of each façade.
"Originally, each pavilion was capped with a large attenuated Mansard-like roof with a single round arch four-light window. These, however, were removed in the second half of this century [the 20th century].
"The first floor of the wood-frame interior is bisected by a center hall on the
east/west axis dividing offices equally on both sides. Exemplary pressed-tin
ceilings and some of the original woodwork have survived. A handsome wooden staircase rises from the first floor to the General Courtroom on the second floor.
"Tom Lovell, the local nineteenth century contractor and presumed designer, showed a substantial comprehension of design, massing, fenestration, and detailing making the Brewster County courthouse one of the finest buildings in Brewster county." From the National Register narrative