The Gray County courthouse, located in the county seat of Pampa, was designed by W. R. Kaufman of Amarillo who insisted that the style he employed was Georgian despite the many Beaux Arts characteristics of the building. In fact, the officially designated style, according to the courthouse’s National Register listing, is Beaux Arts. Kaufman was adamant, however. “Stylists can rave about Spanish, Italian Renaissance, and sky-scraper types of architecture all they want to,” Kaufman exclaimed, “but Georgian is the only American type.” Kaufman’s insistence might be viewed with some skepticism considering the style was named after the four Georges of the British Empire – I through IV – who reigned in the United Kingdom in succession from 1714 to 1830, a period that included the American Revolution. Apparently the Pampa Daily News was suspicious as well, informing its readers that the “big difference” between the construction of the courthouse and “real Georgian” was that the courthouse was fireproof and built with a steel frame, commentary skewed with what some might consider sarcasm. Despite Kaufman’s insistence, the courthouse’s decorative Beaux Arts elements are fully apparent both inside and out and feature urns, bas-relief, terra cotta, and other decorative elements. But the Georgian styling of the Gray County courthouse can also be seen, particularly in its Colonial characteristics, perhaps more reminiscent of architecture favored by a George with decidedly American roots – George Washington.
The four-story steel frame building was completed in 1929 and is covered in a veneer of Indiana limestone and buff-colored brick. Dark red marble line the interior halls and foyer, complimented by red marble stairways. A coffered, ornamental plaster design accentuates the high ceilings and carved oak panels and golden oak benches enhance the courtroom and hallways. A frieze over each of the facades features the legend “Gray County Court House”, etched in blue. In keeping with a Latin-style lettering, the letter “V” was used in place of each “U”, causing some confusion among locals who wondered why their courthouse was called a “covnty covrt hovse”. The fourth floor once served as jail with six compartments designed to accommodate six prisoners each and today, they provide additional office space for county employees.
Although the courthouse underwent a series of upgrades and renovations over the course of the 20th century, the changes were relatively minimal, making the courthouse restoration job, completed in 2003, somewhat more straightforward for the renovation architects. With a Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program grant, the courthouse has been returned to its original appearance. The courthouse anchors a collection of civic buildings, including the jail, City Hall, and the fire station, that all reflect a similar style due to Kaufman’s hand in the designs and, together, provide a suggestion of the “City Beautiful” movement occurring nationwide in the early 20th century.
Gray County Courthouse
Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.