Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Concho County Courthouse, Paint Rock Texas

South elevation
A mid-December trip to Lubbock to attend the Texas Tech graduation ceremony provided an added bonus of travelling roads I had never travelled before. My favorite find was the Concho County Courthouse, which I later found to be one of the Second Empire Ruffini Architectual Triplets.
North door, appears to no longer be in use
The building had a familiarity to it, but I missed all the clues and had to wait until I returned home to find that it was designed and constructed using the same plans as the Sutton County Courthouse and the Old Blanco County Courthouse. All three are laid out on a cross axial plan featuring tall, narrow windows and two interior staircases; the Concho County building is considered the most elaborate in detail. Click on the link above to see pictures of each building.
Mansard roof south elevation

 Built in the Second Empire style much favored for public buildings of the period, its dominant visual feature is its characteristic Mansard roof, treated with much greater elaboration than some of its contemporaries such as F.E. Ruffini’s Blanco County Courthouse. (quoted from the National Register of Historic Places nomination, added 1977)
The design is attributed to Frederick E. (Ernst) Ruffini, but in truth the plan is an adaptation of W.W. Larmour's design for the Tom Green County 1885 Courthouse in San Angelo, Texas. Ruffini's brother, Oscar, had established a practice in San Angelo and was serving as supervising architect for the courthouse construction. He sent the plans and a photograph of the building to Ernst who modified them for the Old Blanco County Courthouse and for the Concho County Courthouse. Both brothers used the plans to design several other courthouses which have all been demolished except for the Sutton County Courthouse.  When Ernst passed away in late 1885 Oscar oversaw the completion of the Concho County Courthouse.
South elevation - when I looked through the door I could see a beautiful staircase decorated for Christmas! 
Bonds in the amount of $28,000 were issued at 8% interest to fund the project after Kane & Cormack Contractors and Builders were awarded the construction contract. Rusticated stone from a nearby quarry was used in the construction. As the project neared completion under Oscar Ruffini's supervision County Commissioners contracted with a Chicago firm to furnish the courthouse for a sum of $1,212.

North elevation
The building appears to be in excellent condition and very well preserved.  The only significant modification to the structure is the addition of a vault on the east side of the building (see the south elevation picture). Truly an architectual gem!

Just to note: I do plan to return when the building is open and see if I can make photographs and find pictures from the past on display.

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