I've recently updated pages on the following counties: Polk, Ellis, Jefferson, Orange, and Chambers. I'll be adding more over the next few days as I'm on vacation from my day job.
From a recent article in the paper:
When Ray Kroll took the economic development job in Karnes County a few years ago, the property value of the entire county was around $500 million. Now, thanks to the Eagle Ford shale play, the property tax rolls have jumped
to $1.3 billion. “To think that you would use the b-word in conjunction with Karnes County is just crazy,” Kroll said. “We’re talking in billions and not millions.”
South central Texas counties are undergoing a fundamental change in their economies and in their infastructure use as a result in the oil and gas boom. Counties suddenly have a lot more money, traffic and demands for housing and other support systems.
This will ultimately impact the county courthouse and other county buildings such as jails and maintenance facilities.
I drove from Houston to Laredo and back in October 2011. I was amazed at the truck traffic and drilling activity along the way, especially on the drive from Cottula to Three Rivers and then south to Tilden. These counties are sparsely populated and the Eagle Ford boom has overwhelmed the county roads.
I was in Waco today on business so I stopped by the McLennan County courthouse to check on the progress of the restoration. The courthouse dome is fully enclosed with scaffolding:
Compare this photo to one I took on October 1, 2010 and you'll see that the statue of justice has been restored.
I'm looking forward to the complete restoration of the McLennan County courthouse.
My Uncle Clark alerted me to this issue from an article in the Sweetwater Reporter:
September 10, 2011
By Melissa Winslow
On Friday afternoon, Sept. 9, 2011, the Nolan County Courthouse suffered some building damage. One marble slab — which covers the entire outside of the courthouse — approximately 10 feet by 5 feet, weighing about 2,000 pounds, fell off of the courthouse into the north entrance. Nolan County Sheriff David Warren and a deputy took a square foot chunk, weighed it, and calculated the weight based on the overall dimensions of the slab. The slab cracked a section of sidewalk and part of the planter closest to the doors at the courthouse. There were no injuries.
First of all, the stone cladding on the courthouse is granite, not marble. Not that a falling granite slab is any less dangerous than a falling marble slab. They were extremely fortunate no one was injured.
From another Sweeterwater Reporter story, on November 29, 2011:
Nolan County Commissioner Terry Willman also reported during Monday night's meeting that the county will be considering how best to repair damage to the outside of the courthouse. On Sept. 10, a granite panel fell onto the north entrance of the courthouse, causing damage to the sidewalk below and a granite planter. The panel and what was used to attach it had deteriorated and gave way. Upon closer examination to the courthouse's exterior, it was discovered that other panels had similar damage.
Willman said this led the commissioners to the decision that all the granite panels had to be removed and weatherproofed since the concrete wall of the building was not waterproofed when constructed in 1977. He said the cost of removal and weatherproofing will be about $900,000. He added that the courthouse was completed in 1977 at a rough cost of $3.4 million and was paid off in 1988. They have had engineers inspect the exterior following the damage, and it was determined the building was still structurally sound [,but, unfortunately, also still extremely ugly.]
Willman said the commission will now have to decide how best to repair the exterior and whether to put the granite back on or replace it with something else. [Perhaps mirrors, so you won't see the building.]
The article also notes the county is also seeking solutions to jail overcrowding, since the jail is located in the courthouse building and cannot be enlarged in this location. A new county jail will probably be built at a remote location. It's just a question of money at this point. Of course, fixing the exterior of this building is also a question of money. Money that might better be spent demolishing it and constructing a new courthouse in a style more appropriate to this location. I really hate to see the county throwing good money ($900,000) after bad by repairing the exterior of this bunker-like fortress. Perhaps the solution is to encapsulate the current building within a new facade. I know this has been done in other counties over the years, to the detriment of existing historically significant buildings. BUT, the 1977 Nolan County courthouse is not historically significant, except as a warning for future generations of architects!
Leonard G. Lane, Jr., AIA
- Chronological Order (of my visits)
- County List (alphabetical)
- County Seat 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