Independence Trail Region


Birthplace of the late Pulitzer Prize and Oscar-winning playwright and screenwriter Horton Foote, and longtime CBS newsman Dan Rather, Wharton claims another distinction, one of the more dramatic restorations of a county courthouse in Texas.

Founded in 1846, the Wharton County seat nestles along the Colorado River 60 miles southwest of Houston on U.S. 59. In 1889, a three-story brick courthouse with limestone trim rose on the town square. It was designed by architect Eugene T. Heiner in the Second Empire style. But in the 1930s and 1940s, in the name of modernization and the need for more space, the landmark was shorn of her clock-and-bell tower and mansard roof, cloaked with Art Deco additions, and covered in yellow stucco. During the next half-century, many people who remembered the earlier iteration of the stately building passed away or moved on.