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Sunday, July 26, 2015

254 Courthouses

Routes Traveled

The above map is what I used to mark the counties I had visited and what counties I had not.  For me it's hard to believe that I went to all 254 of them.  The first courthouse that I photographed was on July 1, 2011, over four years ago in Grimes County.  The Italianate courthouse sits alone in a traffic island on top of the only hill in Anderson and looks down on the small town.  For me, it is still one of the most beautiful courthouses in Texas.
Grimes County Courthouse, Anderson, TX
I wondered how hard would it be to go to all 254 counties.  I began to read about people who had done such a project. One was Dr. Mavis P. Kelsey, of the famed Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.  He and Donald H. Dyal published The Courthouses of Texas, a guide to the 254 county courthouses.  I ordered a copy and it became my personal guide for the next four years.  I quickly learned some basic architectural terms and styles and I began to see these terms in subsequent courthouses.  It also provided a history lesson on how Texas counties were formed and how they got their name.  If you are contemplating seeing some of these courthouses, I would suggest you get a copy of the book as the location of each is documented.

I became familar with the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, THCPP, administered by the Texas Historical Commission after noticing the large sign on the McClelland County courthouse grounds in Waco.  Part of the courthouse was shrouded in scaffolding.












The blue counties have courthouses that have been completely restored under this program.  There are many counties waiting funding for their courthouse program.
Throckmorton County Courthouse under restoration

Throckmorton County Courthouse after restoration

My recent trek through the Panhandle uncovered ten counties that have the Ten Commandments on a 3' X 3' X 3' block of gray granite prominently displayed in or on their courthouse grounds.  It warms my heart that the people of Texas are not afraid to point to the importance of God's law and it's significance to state law.


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