My first stop was Newton County, the "eastern-most" county in Texas. This Second Empire style courthouse was designed by none other than Martin & Moodie, architects of the Irion County courthouse in Sherwood (#005). The courthouse (circa 1902) burned in 2000 and I was expecting the restoration to be complete by now. Well, it almost is complete, but there are several incomplete items on the exterior, including 3 of the 4 gable ends, which were covered in building paper that had been exposed to the weather for awhile. Looking through the windows I could see the interior was finished but unoccupied.
I walked around the exterior, trying not to wilt in the intense heat. In the early 1980's an unfortunate but all too common addition had been imposed on the 1902 building. The addition houses the Newton County Sheriff's offices. I went inside and spoke with a female deputy through a thick (bullet-proof?) glass. "When will they finish the construction?" I asked. She replied "If you find out, please let us know!" Apparently the construction process has come to a halt and locals are in the dark as to why. My guess: problems with the contractor. Regardless, I'll call the Texas Historical Commission next week and try to find out what is holding up the completion. (Followup: I've been assured the project is getting back on track and will be finished very soon.)
I'm spending the night in Jasper at the Holiday Inn Express (shameless plug). For dinner, I went to the restaurant recommended by the hotel staff: the Cedar Tree. Well, Saturday night is the "all you can eat" seafood buffet at the Cedar Tree. It was full! I did manage to get a table, but after 15 minutes of being ignored by the staff, I left without trying the fried frozen seafood buffet. Judging from the customers surrounding me, it was "filling."
Next I tried Martin's Mexican restaurant. The service at Martin's was fast and friendly and, most importantly, they served beer. (The Cedar Tree did not.) But, in order to purchase beer one has to "join" a club. Wow! I hadn't run across this practice in years. This was common decades ago, but is still the law in Jasper. No problem: the beer was cold and I was thirsty. So, now I'm a proud member of Martin's Mexican restaurant club. (No charge for membership, by the way.) Salud!