Although created in 1858, Throckmorton County waited for organization until 1879, a direct result of the Civil War and hostile frontier conflicts that deterred settlement in the region. Local citizen F. E. Conrad donated land for the first Throckmorton town square and financed the building of the first courthouse, a relatively simple structure that required improvements following its completion. The building needed whitewashing regularly and addition included a chimney, cistern, flues and guttering over its decade of service. Once the county made the decision to build a new courthouse in 1890, the frame and clapboard structure was sold for $235 and moved off the square.
In May of 1890, the commissioners court voted to have plans drawn up for a new courthouse and in April of the following year, accepted the courthouse plans of a Mr. Camp of Albany, Texas. Entries in the commissioners court minutes regarding Mr. Camp’s plans created a little bit of confusion about the identity of the actual Throckmorton County courthouse architect. Additional evidence indicates that the design should probably be attributed to Elmer George Withers and the firm of Martin, Byrne and Johnston. However, the firm is never mentioned in the county minutes until payment is made for the plans. The Throckmorton County Courthouse design is a near-duplicate of the neighboring Stonewall County courthouse (abandoned and in ruin in the ghost town of Rayner), completed in 1888 and also attributed to Withers and the building firm.
The Throckmorton County courthouse design reflects an Italianate styling and features polychromatic walls of tan and buff-colored quarried sandstone and a mansard roof with a square cupola. The main section of the courthouse is square, two-and-a-half stories tall, is flanked to the north and south by two-story wings, and incorporates the vault from the 1883 courthouse. Commissioners court minutes indicate few problems with the completed courthouse construction over the following decades other than minor repairs and a reference to interior cleaning in 1922.
“Judge Smith brought before the court the necessity of having the courthouse thoroughly cleaned and fumigated and that after said cleaning had taken place that provisions should be made for sweeping the District Courtroom at least once each week,” minutes from a January 18th meeting read. “It was therefore ordered that all offices, jury rooms, and the court room and hallways be cleaned with water and disinfectant and that all mud daubers nests and cob-webs be cleaned from the ceiling.”
Beginning in the 1930’s, the courthouse experienced significant changes including the removal of the cupola tower and the construction of an addition to the west and southwest portions of the building. The demolition of this addition was perhaps the most challenging aspect of the 21st century courthouse restoration, requiring a remarkable skill set by modern stonemasons to return the exposed façade to its 1890 appearance. Materials were salvaged from the demolition, as similar stone had been used to construct it, recreating a skillful and handsomely crafted façade that matched the opposing historic facades perfectly during the 21st century courthouse restoration. The cupola that had been removed in the 1930’s was replicated to complete the building’s original appearance.
Throckmorton County Courthouse