Back on December 3, we served as docents for the Hood County Courthouse on Granbury's annual Candlelight Tour of Homes (and other historic structures). One of the benefits of our two-hour shift was a free ticket to see other sites on the tour, which I will feature later this week.
Another benefit was getting a preview of the newly-renovated interior of the courthouse a few days earlier, before many citizens had seen the results of the nearly-three-year project.
The Hood County Courthouse was designed by Waco architect Wesley Clark Dodson, who designed a number of other courthouses in Texas, including the one in Lampasas. Many of these are in the French Second Empire style. It was constructed in 1890-1891.
One of its most interesting features are the paintings on the doors of vaults and safes throughout the building. Many of these had been painted over and needed careful restoration.
Most of the benches in the second floor courtroom are originals, as is the wooden floor, pictured above.
The second floor courtroom used to have a dropped ceiling and a number of partitions, as pictured below left. The photo below right shows how it looks today:
During the restoration, experts scraped away layers of paint, exposing decorative treatments. Faux black grout lines were painted over a calcimine blue-gray background, creating the appearance of Cannes stone, reflecting the building's French design. Near the ceiling, they uncovered a Victorian motif hand-stenciled in brown oil-based paint that replicates the art metalwork pattern in the courthouse staircase, below right. These original paint treatments were restored, below left.
The removal of the false ceiling exposed the soaring 19-foot walls, the 32-foot vaulted corrugated metal ceiling, and tall, narrow Victorian windows.
Another interesting feature, not described in the literature we were given, was the old urinals on the landing between the first and second floors on the east end of the building. Apparently these were just large funnels (now gone) connected to holes in the floor, which are still visible. (The center photo below is by Andrea Sutton and was taken February 23, 2007, for the Hood County Historical Society.)
And finally, just for fun - my husband pretending to be a mean judge on the Candlelight tour (his station was the second floor courtroom; I was on the first floor), and the nutcracker sentry just outside the south side door, next to the historical marker (click on the photo to enlarge it and read the marker).
© Amanda Pape - 2011 - click here to e-mail me.