Friday, October 17, 2014. I left Houston in the morning and followed Texas Highway 36 north and west through central Texas, on my way to Abilene. At Hamilton I turned west on FM 218. This narrow, winding country road took me through Indian Gap (with its large collection of used earth-moving equipment) and eventually to northern Mills County. Priddy, Texas, home of the pirates, is not a county seat but I couldn't resist the sign on the edge of town. At Zephyr I turned north on US 84 and followed the road to Abilene, my ancestral home.
On Saturday, the18th, I traveled west with my brother, Terry, and my uncle, Clark, to Sweetwater, seat of Nolan County, to check on the re-cladding of the 1970's era courthouse. You'll recall that the original stone cladding on the courthouse was, shall we say -- falling off the building -- and has since been removed. The new, improved Nolan County courthouse is slowly taking shape. Only the south façade remains unfinished. This was my fourth visit to this courthouse. Hopefully, my fifth visit, sometime next year, will allow me to present the finished building!
Sunday, October 19, Terry, Clark and I left Abilene for an all day courthouse road trip. We began with county #217, Throckmorton. The county seat is also named Throckmorton. It's home to the Red Star Studio of artist Joe Barrington. And, the 1890 courthouse, currently undergoing a full restoration, thanks to the citizens of Texas.
Throckmorton's historic courthouse has been missing its tower for many, many years, but it's now been recreated and looks great. Of course, the rest of the building is still a work in progress. I'll be back next year to photograph the completed courthouse.
Leaving Throckmorton we stopped for lunch at Olney (fried chicken, yum!) and soon found ourselves in Archer City, seat of Archer County, home of Larry McMurtry and the inspiration for his novel, The Last Picture Show. No visit to Archer City would be complete without a stop at McMurtry's famous bookstore, Booked Up. Alas, it's closed on Sunday.
The 1891 Archer County courthouse is also closed on Sunday but that didn't prevent me from photographing the large stone edifice under the watchful eye of a fake owl.
South of Archer City is Graham, Texas, seat of Young County. This delightful community is home to "America's largest downtown square."
America's largest downtown square is home to a 1932 county courthouse. Young County is #219 on my list and the last new county I'll visit in 2014. There are now just 35 Texas counties remaining for me to visit in 2015. Of course, there are always Texas courthouses to revisit. On our way home to Abilene, we visited two:
Breckenridge is the seat of Stephens County. This oil derrick is a reminder of the county's glory days. The impressive neo-classical style courthouse would be right at home in Washington, DC.
Our last stop before reaching Abilene was the lovely Shackelford County courthouse in Albany, Texas.
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