Local officials rededicated the 1910 Harris County Courthouse this morning. Work began in 2003, when Commissioners Court authorized a preservation master plan that proposed to restore the building’s exterior and the public spaces inside to their 1910 appearance. The work included re-opening the building’s rotunda, recreating the stained glass dome and ornate plasterwork, and reconstructing two of the original courtrooms. In addition to County funding, the project received a grant from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program administered by Texas Historical Commission.
A few photos of the restored courthouse are below.
Exterior restoration included the reconstruction of monumental staircases on the Fannin and San Jacinto street sides of the courthouse.
Part of the interior restoration involved re-opening the building’s rotunda, which had been floored over in the 1950s. Though no drawings or photos of the original stained glass skylight were found, the design is based on similar pieces of the period. Colors are based on those found in the floor tiles of the courthouse. Replacement Creole marble for the rotunda walls came from the same Georgia quarry that supplied the stone in 1910.
Two of the building’s original courtrooms were restored. In the north courtroom, patterns on the bow-front balcony were recreated using old photographs.
A pair of staircases on the east side of the building retain much of their original ironwork, wooden handrails and marble treads. Casts of the original metalwork were used to create replacements where they were needed.
Elaborate plasterwork throughout the building, including this detail on a hallway pilaster, was restored or recreated. Much of the original ornamentation in the building had been destroyed or hidden during renovations through the years.
The elaborate pargework ceiling in this sixth floor corridor was recreated based on a 4-by-5-foot section uncovered during the early phases of the restoration project.
Harris County Courthouse (1910, Lang & Witchell). Photos by Jim Parsons.