El CAMINO REAL, CATTLE, AND A RESTORED COURTHOUSE
Beeville is serious about preservation and was named a Texas Main Street City in 2005. Downtown buildings dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries wear fresh coats of paint and house tearooms and gift shops along with the Bee County Library in the Romanesque Revival Praeger Building. The pride of the community is the 1912 county courthouse, designed by architect W.C. Stephenson in the Classical Revival style with Beaux Arts influences. Constructed of brick, with tall Corinthian columns that support a portico at the main entrance, the building was restored to its original splendor in 2006 with assistance from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. A 10-foot-tall statue of Lady Justice stands atop the clock tower. The statue received national attention in the late 1990s when a Beeville schoolgirl, Lauron Fischer, noticed that Lady Justice was not holding her torch straight and with help from her 4-H club and Bee County, raised funds to fix the metal sculpture.
Bee County was established in 1858 and named for Col. Barnard E. Bee, Secretary of State of the Republic of Texas. Beeville, the county seat, grew as a cattle and railroad town whose transportation heritage dates to Spanish expeditions beginning in the late 17th along the route known as El Camino Real de los Tejas. Northern Bee County falls along the trail’s Lower Road. Texas pioneers later followed those trails and established settlements along the way. In the decades after the Civil War, cattle headed to northern markets along the Chisholm Trail passed through the area.
Local festivals celebrating Beeville’s heritage include the Diez y Seis de Septiembre celebration of Mexican Independence; Western Week in October; and the lighted Christmas Parade on the courthouse square in December. Just a mile from downtown, the Beeville Art Museum is located in the 1910, Queen Anne-style Esther Barnhart House. The museum hosts traveling exhibits, classes, workshops, and bilingual story-times for children.