On the road to New Orleans
Donna and I drove to New Orleans on Thursday, April 5. On the way, we stopped in Beaumont (Jefferson County) and Orange (Orange County) so I could take additional photographs for this website. It was a beautiful spring day. The Jefferson County courthouse in Beaumont is as impressive as ever. I took some photographs of the 1981 addition to the historic courthouse and a few of the immediate context, including the adjacent Port of Beaumont.
The entrance to the Port of Beaumont is across the street from the courthouse. I took this photo standing in the public right of way (i.e. the street). As you can see, there's not much to "see" at the entrance. Being a port, there are some ships and warehouses in the immediate area. Nothing unusual or unexpected.
I walked inside the property to take a closer look at the propeller. After taking a couple of photographs, I turned and started to take a photograph of the port entrance. At that point a uniformed guard came out of the building and made it clear to me that I wasn't allowed to take photos of the port. Security issues. So, I made my way back to the street and the courthouse. Lesson learned.
I'll be updating my Jefferson County page soon. Here's a detail from the 1932 courthouse.
The courthouse in Orange, Texas is as far east as any in the state, with the possible exception of the courthouse in Newton. On the map, Orange appears to be just a little further east than Newton. I'll check the coordinates later to confirm my initial opinion. Anyway, Orange has a number of significant buildings in its downtown area, but the courthouse isn't one of them. In fact, the courthouse is located a few blocks south of the downtown. I don't know why it was built all by itself. Here's the view from the courthouse steps, looking north. Not much, eh?
The courthouse dates from 1935-36 and was a WPA project. In 1964 a pair of modern wings were added on the east and west. Otherwise, the building appears to be pretty much original.
Orange is home to the very impressive Stark Museum of Art. More on this and other updates to the Orange County page will follow later this week.
5/1/2012 02:17:25 am
Mr. Lane, I'm a former resident of Orange County and was drawn to your fascinating blog by chance. Your photos of the courthouses in Orange and Jefferson Counties are really a study of the decline of architectural standards for public buildings in the U.S. The WPA-era courthouse in Orange County was a stately, if modest, building. But the two wings built in the 1960s are without character and incongruent with the original building. The Jefferson County courthouse looks like a forbidding bunker, which is perhaps appropriate considering that you were prohibited from taking pictures at the port across the street due to excessive security concerns. The newer Jefferson County courthouse is especially depressing when compared with the lovely older Art Deco courthouse. It seems there was a time when people valued the appearance of their public buildings, but apparently no longer. What does it say about us as a society?
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Leonard G. Lane, Jr., AIA
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