SET IN STONE
Picturesque La Grange is a Texas Main Street City with a revitalized downtown that preserves the community’s 19th Century past. But the roots of this city reach even farther back in time: La Grange is located where an old Indian trail, later called La Bahia Road by European explorers, crossed the Colorado River.
Established in 1831, La Grange became the seat of Fayette County in 1837. Three county courthouses preceded the current building, an 1891 Romanesque Revival structure designed by architect J. Reily Gordon. Constructed of white Belton limestone and blue Muldoon sandstone, with accents of red and pink sandstone from Belton and Burnet, it cuts a fine figure on the town square. Inside was a feature that distinguished this courthouse from others in Texas: an open central atrium, which provided light and ventilation to the building. The atrium was furnished with a fountain, cast-iron sculptures and tropical plants. But by the 1940s, county government needed more space and the atrium was covered and converted to offices. Restoration of the building with assistance from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program reopened the atrium, to the delight of residents who crowded the town square during the rededication ceremony in 2005.
A block away stands the Old Fayette County Jail, now home to displays of county and jail memorabilia and the La Grange Area Chamber of Commerce. The Victorian Gothic structure was completed in 1883 and resembles a European cathedral, built of Muldoon sandstone. One of the newer downtown attractions is the Texas Quilt Museum housed in two restored buildings dating to the 1890s. The museum displays antique and contemporary quilts against a backdrop of high ceilings, brick walls and original hardwood floors.
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