Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Restored Navarro County Courthouse

A recent post featured the Navarro County Courthouse and a subsequent post featured the Lady Justice statue that guards the entrance of the courthouse.  The courthouse was dedicated a few weeks ago and offered an open house after the ceremony.  Although I was close by in Dallas the timing just didn't work for me (and I had a dog that probably would not have been allowed inside the building even though he is cleaner than most humans and very well behaved). 

Thankfully, the Texas Historic Commission has shared a short film clip of the dedication and scenes of the stunning interior as well as a description of the columns made using the scagliola method and the little trick they played on a structural engineer!  Lady Justice is also featured with an interesting proposal that her disappearance came when she was donated to the war effort.  Click the link below:

Restored Navarro County Courthouse

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Patti Welder Middle School (Victoria Junior High)

Patti Welder passed away in 1917 just short of her 18th birthday.  Her father, John J Welder, donated 25 acres to the school board in her memory with the stipulation that her name would always remain with the property. A school bond election was held and Patti Welder High School was completed during the 1918-1919 school year.  In 1925 the school board created Victoria College and the College would be housed on the property until they re-located to their own property in 1948. In addition, the district’s administrative offices were located here.

Victoria’s growing population necessitated the addition of more buildings to accommodate the needs of students.  By 1936 it was a sprawling maze of buildings.  In 1936 a new building was added to house Victoria Junior High School.  It housed the administration, a library and four classrooms.  By 1939 another addition was needed.  Two plaques located on either side of one of the front entrances confirm that both buildings were built under the auspices of the New Deal.

In 1949 a new high school was built and named Victoria High School. With the high school and college being relocated Victoria Junior High was the sole occupant of the property and the school was renamed Patti Welder Junior High to fulfill the stipulation that her name remain with the property. By 1961 the campus was in need of serious renovation and a bond election was approved. Several buildings, including the 1918 high school building, were razed and a new wing added to the existing 1936 building along with a new gymnasium, shop, and cafeteria.
Most of the school was destroyed by a lightening caused fire on February 10, 1985.  Pictures from the fire paint a grim picture. The school was rebuilt; however, more research is needed to determine what features other than the fa├žade remain from the original buildings.


Monday, May 30, 2016

Navarro County Courthouse

The 1905 Navarro County Courthouse in Corsicana, Texas, is in the final stages of a renovation/restoration project that is returning it to its original layout and design. The two-year project is close to being completed.  There have been some surprises and setbacks as the work progressed, but the contractor referred to them as "the nature of the beast" in historic restoration projects. Craftsman of all kinds have applied their skills to every inch of the courthouse. (Corsicana Daily Sun November 30, 2015)

This is Navarro County's fifth courthouse.  Corsicana was named the county seat in 1848 and a log cabin served as the courthouse until a permanent courthouse was built at this site in 1853; 2 years later it would burn and then be re-built. Interestingly, one account of the fire that I read revealed that the fire was an act of arson by criminals who were attempting to destroy the record of their indictments! An elaborate courthouse was completed in 1880 and condemned in 1904 after problems with the foundation shifting. 
J.E. Flanders of Dallas designed the 1905 building in the Beaux Arts Classical Revival style. Built of Burnet red granite and grey bricks its original cost came in at $175,000. A 1964 renovation cost approximately $350,000. The current project is partially funded by a $7.5 million bond referendum passed in 2013 of which $4.7 million was a local match for a Round VII $4.4 million Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program grant. Total costs will probably come in somewhat higher as there was the discovery of extensive plaster damage to the walls in addition to the added cost of adding a fire suppression system to bring the building into compliance with city codes. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

McNay Art Museum (Marion Koogler McNay house)

The doors of Marion Koogler McNay's home still welcome visitors today just as they did when the home was completed in 1929.  Upon her death in 1950 she left her home, the 23 surrounding acres and her extensive art collection to be preserved as an art museum. Her goal was to make her museum "a place of beauty with the comforts and warmth of a home."
The entrance hall

The 24 room Spanish Colonial-Revival house was designed by San Antonio architects Atlee and Robert Ayers. Mrs. McNay closely supervised every detail of the design and construction. She designed and applied stencils, tiles and other decorative touches such as antique wrought-iron lamps and chandeliers.

The McNay Art Musuem opened in 1954 as the first museum of modern art in Texas; the attached Jane and Arthur Stieren Center for Exhibitions was opened in 2008.

Mrs. McNay paid equal attention to the planning of the gardens around the home.  A beautiful courtyard with Koi pond and outdoor fireplace offers a serene spot to stop for a few quiet minutes.

The McNay curates almost 20,000 pieces of art, including the core 700 pieces of Mrs. McNay's collection.  Viewers are delighted with Picasso, Monet, and Van Gough as well as works by modern artists.
Currently on exhibit is this rendering of an artist's studio.  Everything is made with cardboard, glue, and black paint.  No detail is overlooked.  Delightful!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Looks like it is saved!

Last post I shared the plight of a Victorian home in Dallas, Texas that was about to be demolished to make room for a Time Warner Cable hub and parking lot.  I was happy to read this week that Time Warner has agreed to move the structure to another nearby location.  Congratulations to preservationists and city leaders who rallied together to convince Time Warner to stop the demolition.  The Dallas Morning News City Blog has details as well as pictures of the inside of the delightful home read here

I'm hoping the story continues with the relocation and successful restoration of the home.  So far, so good!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Save This Building!

Headline:  Dallas to consider protecting historic Cedars home that Time Warner wants to raze 

Last summer I visited The Dallas Heritage Village while in Dallas for a dog show.  The Village is dog friendly and Bentley and I enjoyed our stroll on a hot July day.  I shared some of the buildings here.  I follow the Village on Facebook and was stunned this week when they showed a charming blue Victorian home in the Cedars neighborhood with a bulldozer parked in front of it.  Time Warner was about to tear it down to build a new downtown operations hub and parking lot. Fortunately, the Dallas Landmark Commission has taken action to halt the demolition, at least for now.

Today on Facebook there was a link to the Dallas Morning News' City Hall Blog with details of the history of this house, at least what has been quickly found.  As I understand it, if the Commission can prove the house has historic significance it will be spared.  The Village estimates it would cost a million dollars to move the house to their property, restore it  and maintain it. City Hall Blog Dallas Morning News

I don't have any pictures to share here, but click on over to the article and look at what a glorious house this had to have been.  I can only imagine what it looked like when new and hope it can be saved from the bulldozer.  (Personal note:  shame on Time Warner!)

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Bell County Courthouse

The Bell County Courthouse was presented to the Commissioners Court by the architect, J.N. Preston and  Son, on May 29, 1885.  The Court issued its Certificate of Completion and county business has been conducted within its walls ever since.  

Bell County was formed in 1850; the first courthouse on this site was a two-room log cabin built in 1851.  It was replaced in 1858 with another structure that in 1883 the Commissioners Court would  declare as an unsafe repository for official records. Through the issuance of bonds and the levy of a tax the Court was able to finance the new structure for a cost just under $65,000.

County Judge, W.M. Minyard was ordered to
"advertise in the Galveston News until the 31st day of December 1883 for plans and specifications for the erection of a new Courthouse in Belton.  He was ordered that the cost not exceed $65,000.00 and to be of dimensions sufficient to supply necessary Courtrooms, jury rooms, offices for all County Officers and one Justice of the Peace and ample room for all the records of the County; to be practically fire proof, and the walls of said Courthouse to be built of the best and hardest limestone found in and about Belton." Bell County TX 

A local builder,  Ben D. Lee, was awarded the contract and construction began in early 1884.

Designed in a Renaissance Revival style, the courthouse was considered to be a magnificent structure at the time of its completion.  However, progress and innovation took its toll on the building when the clock tower and most of the roof detail was removed in the 1950's.  In addition, the interior was dramatically altered and modernized. 
In August 1998 a complete restoration was authorized by the Commissioners.  Over a year later the interior renovations were complete and the clock tower, dome and statue were replace with replicas of the original design.  Today this beautiful building looks much like it did on its acceptance day!