Friday, February 12, 2021

Bell County Courthouse - Looking Back & Going Inside

Over five years ago I wrote a post about the Bell County Courthouse.  Since then I've visited Belton numerous times, some for dog shows with a little "wandering" afterward and on some "wandering" day trips.  Each time I come away with more appreciation for this little Central Texas town and its rich heritage which is carefully preserved. In this post I want to share what I found inside the 1885 Renaissance Revival Courthouse on a recent weekday trip.

Come with me and step inside

The interior of the Courthouse is very much a modern office facility with the usual Courthouse offices.  It is sparkling clean and very pleasant inside, but I saw no signs of original details except perhaps in the configuration of hallways and in the stairwell to the upper floors. On a future trip I hope to visit in person with one of the historians about the details of the Courthouse interior. What I was pleased to find was a large collection of photographs displayed on the first-floor walls that gave much insight into Belton and its history and that of the Courthouse. Truly, a picture is worth a thousand words!

First floor hallway
First floor hallway, fanlight above door may be original

Third floor hallway

First floor stairwell

Among the photographs on display was a picture of the tower-less Courthouse after an extensive remodeling in the 1950's that included removing the dome, clock tower, and goddess due to deterioration.  I'm certain that the County Commissioners thought they were doing the right thing to modernize the Courthouse to mid-century modern standards, but today we recognize their mistake and have to accept that they were caught in the out-with-the-old and in-with-the new craze.  The interior was also updated and modernized at that time. 

1957 view of dome-less Courthouse, north and east side

Bell County Courthouse 1895, north and west side

Bell County Courthouse 1920

Bell County Courthouse 2020

Dome and clock tower, unknown date

Restored tower detail, 2015

Restored dome, tower, and goddess, 2015

The photographs on display in the Courthouse and shown here are from the collection of the Bell County Museum.

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