I photographed the Lavaca County courthouse in Hallettsville in June 2009. Since then the exterior has been restored (cleaned up, really). So, I took a 100 mile drive to Hallettsville this fine Saturday morning. Arriving at 11:30, I decided to have lunch on the square. The only restaurant that was open was El Vaquero. I was in luck. They serve an excellent lunch buffet for $7.25. The food was very good. I recommend it!
After lunch I circled the square and photographed the courthouse and buildings on the square. Hallettsville has a fine square with many historic buildings, most of them in good repair. Of course, the centerpiece is the 1899 Eugene T. Heiner designed courthouse. The restoration has cleaned up what was already a magnificent example of late 19th century Romanesque style architecture. All in all, one of the best courthouses and squares in Texas. In my opinion. As a result of today's roadtrip I'll be updating the photos on the Lavaca County page.
I visited the grave of Eugene T. Heiner this afternoon. It's located in the beautiful Glenwood Cemetery in Houston. Heiner died in Houston in April 1901, at age 48. He and his wife Viola arrived in Houston from Dallas in 1878. Between 1878 and his death in 1901 Heiner designed a number of significant buildings in Texas, including 12 courthouses, of which only 6 survive. I'm going to create a separate page on this website with a list and photos of his courthouses.You can read more about Eugene Heiner here and here.
If you visit Glenwood Cemetery (And you should, it's worth the trip, especially on a nice day.) turn right as you enter (at the security building) and Heiner's grave is just a short distance, on the right. A Texas Historic Marker makes it very easy to spot.
Sunday morning, September 4, I checked out of the hotel in Boerne and drove back to the Kendall County courthouses for additional photographs. I was on the road by 9:30 AM. Left I-10 at Comfort and took Highway 87 north, arriving in Fredericksburg before the masses of holiday weekend tourists had choked off Main Street. Took a few photos of some "context." and continued north on 87 to Mason, seat of Mason County. It was a picture perfect day in a lovely small town in central Texas. Not too hot, yet...
Leaving Mason, I continued north on 87 to the geographic center of Texas: Brady, seat of McCulloch County. After a chicken fried steak lunch (!) I photographed the recently restored courthouse and then began my journey back towards Houston on Highway 71.
Highway 71 from Brady to Llano and then on to Austin is a beautiful road. The hill country scenes are terrific, albeit a little too "dry" these days. I made good time and arrived in Austin mid-afternoon. The Travis County courthouse, dating from 1930, is rather forgetable in my opinion. It's a large, blocky Moderne mass on Guadalupe, facing a alley!
Epilogue: on my way home to Houston, I encountered a firestorm just east of Bastop, in the Lost Pines forest. I made a video of my drive into forest fire hell. Here's the link to YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7a_KelfwksU&feature=feedbul
Fortunately, I was able to turn back and drive south to Luling and then on I-10 to Houston. 456 miles later, I was home.
I left home in Houston this morning and spent the day re-visiting 4 towns/courthouses that I'd photographed early on in my project, before I knew what kind and number of photos I'd need for my website. In the "early" days I might only take 5-10 photos per courthouse. Today, I took 50-60 at each stop.
Columbus, seat of Colorado County was my first stop. The Colorado County courthouse is under-going at THC restoration. I took photos of the surrounding square and some of the courthouse. Columbus boasts a number of well-preserved late 19th and early 20th century houses.
Next stop was La Grange, seat of Fayette County. I arrived in downtown La Grange as a parade was ending. The place was packed with people and vehicles. And flags, too! A bonus: I was able to tour the inside of the magnificent
courthouse on a Saturday.
Following lunch, I photographed the Bastrop courthouse again and then re-visited Lockhart before visiting friends in Wimberley. (A shout-out to Guy and Elaine! You've got a fantastic home.)
An hour later I arrived in Boerne, seat of Kendall County, the first "new" county seat of this trip. It was about 6 o'clock but I was able to take a few shots of the Kendall County courthouses (new and old) before checking in at the Fairfield Inn & Suites. Tomorrow morning I'll take some more photographs in Boerne and then drive north and west to Mason and Brady before turning south and east to Austin and finally, to Houston. It will be a long day, but Monday's a holiday so I can rest.
Leonard G. Lane, Jr., AIA
- Chronological Order (of my visits)
- County List (alphabetical)
- Texas Courthouse Blog
- James Riely Gordon, Architect
- Eugene T. Heiner, Architect
- Henry T. Phelps, Architect
- Alfred Giles, Architect
- Corneil G. Curtis, Architect
- Wesley Clark Dodson, Architect
- Lang & Witchell Architects
- Voelcker & Dixon, Architects
- Wyatt C. Hedrick, Architect
- David S. Castle, Architect
- Page Brothers, Architects
- James Edward Flanders, Architect
- Pierce, Norris, Pace & Associates, Architects & Engineers