Saturday, June 20, 2015

Other projects of Henry T Phelps in Jourdanton, Texas

The last Doorway Into the Past post covered the Atascosa County Courthouse built in 1912 and designed in the Mission Revival style by Henry T Phelps.  He also designed two other structures for Jourdanton that are worthy of note.  Interestingly his firm, Phelps & Dewees & Simmons, designed many, many structures in San Antonio and the surrounding area.  Today that firm is still in business under the name of Garza/Bomberger and Associates and continues to produce remarkable designs.

The jail was completed in 1915 and used as such until 1982 when a new, modern detention facility was opened.  The first floor of the jail served as office space and living quarters for the Sheriff's family from 1919 until 1959.  The second floor had jail cells as well as a gallows room that, thankfully, was never used.  Additional cells were located on the third floor. 

The Texas Historical Commission marker notes that construction cost $20,000.  It describes the building as "having an eclectic blend of architectural elements" with crenelated towers and hood moldings on the windows.
An addition to the building was completed in 1974 with matching brick and similar elements.  Today the building is used as county offices.  The day I visited there was no one around the building and, honestly, it gave me the creeps!  I did not linger any longer than it took to make pictures.  It was a formidable structure and I cannot imagine how any Sherriff would want his family to live with prisoners on the upper floors!
Phelps also is credited with designing a high school gymnasium that was constructed with help from the WPA  It is no longer extant; I'm working to find the exact location of the gym and possibly a picture.  At some time the WPA marker and cornerstone of the gym was preserved in a brick enclosure in front of the Jourdanton ISD school complex.
Finding this was an unexpected thrill as I had no idea that it existed.  I was just trying to find the Texas Historical Commission marker and was overjoyed to find that some dear souls in the community had taken such care to preserve these important pieces of the old gym.