Saturday, May 23, 2015

Atascosa County Courthouse

Many years ago, in what now seems like another life, I frequently passed by this courthouse and thought it to be a unique building if not unusual.  And, it is unusual because the Atascosa County Courthouse is the only Mission Revival style courthouse to survive in Texas, per the Texas Historical commission website.  (See the Alamo motif on each tower?)
Built in 1912 it underwent restorations inside and out after a large corbel (bracket) fell from one of the towers.  Pictures of the courthouse during renovation and interior afterwards are seen at Fisher Heck's website. Renovations included masonry and tile roof repairs and intensive interior restorations and upgrades to modernize the buildings electrical and mechanical systems.  The restored courthouse was dedicated on June 14, 2003.

The courthouse sits in the middle of a circle driveway with each side being identical.  Only one side is slightly altered as that is where the entrance to the elevator was created.  I could only imagine an elderly or disabled person struggling up the stairs both inside and out!
Texas politics has always been a hot topic and Atascosa County was no exception.  Atascosa was created out of Bexar County (San Antonio) in 1858.  The first courthouse was a log cabin on land donated by Jose Antonio Navarro. The county seat would move to Pleasanton in 1856 where 3 successive courthouses would be built.  In a special election held in 1910 voters choose to move the courthouse to Jourdanton.  As to be expected there was politics, politics, politics.

Henry T Phelps was hired to design the courthouse; he designed 17 Texas courthouses with 15 of those still in use today.   I think this was his only Mission Revival style courthouse. Other projects in Jourdanton include the Atascosa County Jail (1915) and a now extant high school gymnasium (1938) built with assistance from the WPA.  He designed many buildings and homes in San Antonio, including Alamo Stadium and the Nix Professional Building (hospital).