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Harris County 1910 Courthouse

Beaubois brings life to history

Once described as the "finest temple of justice" in Texas, the 1910 Harris County Courthouse will be restored to its graceful youth thanks, in part, to the talented people at Beaubois.

Built a hundred years ago, this imposing building with its huge dome and Corinthian columns will shed the ravages of time and the personality-altering renovations that included replacing the light-giving rotunda with floors and offices in the 1950s and recover its former glory.

With the support of the Texas Historical Commission, which is involved in the carrying out of this project, the administration carried out selective interior demolition and is currently supervising the complete rehabilitation of this jewel.

One of the highlights of this adventure is the rebirth of two courtrooms sacrificed several years ago. Using 21st century techniques, Beaubois must recreate the benches used for public seating by copying the minutest details of the only bench remaining that dates back to 1910. This bench, dear to the hearts of local citizens, will be studied in depth as it is rich in detail and the shop drawings, one of Beaubois' strengths, must be absolutely accurate. In essence, the team will be creating a sculpture and its members are totally enthralled by the work involved in producing this unique piece. The first example, when approved by the client, will be reproduced in sufficient quantity to furnish the two courtrooms.

Beaubois will also produce the judges' benches that dominate these two courtrooms as well as in the built-in personal furniture for the judges and lawyers who have their offices in the building.

As far as the other architectural woodwork elements go, Beaubois cannot rely exclusively on the architect's plans because, in 1910, the masonry walls were parged by hand which creates the illusion that the wall is straight when, in fact, it varies in thickness from one point to the next. The site surveys are therefore of prime importance in ensuring that each piece blends perfectly into the decor.

The Harris County 1910 Courthouse is already considered a major tourist attraction, so you can bet that, restored to its former glory, this building will become a must-see for every tourist interested in history.

Some historical notes

Houston's founders, the Allen brothers, set aside a site to build a court of justice when they drew the plans for the city in 1836. The following year, the Republic of Texas moved the Harris County seat from Harrisburg to Houston. The first session of the Eleventh District Court of the Republic of Texas was held under the trees of courthouse square in March 1837. During the Civil War, the courthouse building was converted into a munitions factory, and the basement became a guard house for Union prisoners of war.

A design competition for the current building, the fifth Harris County Courthouse to sit on this square, took place in 1909 and there were two obligatory elements - a large dome and a columnated facade. The winning firm, Lang & Witchell of Dallas, opted for a classical revival style incorporating a dome and Corinthian-inspired columns. The original materials include Texas granite, St. Louis brick and stone American eagles.

The stairwell and rotunda were lined with "the most perfectly matched marble in the United States." Every piece was measured and fitted so that the veins of the marble formed all kinds of figures - from owls and peacocks to women's faces. The courthouse attracted visitors from all over the country.
In 1952, the building was remodeled to become the Harris County Civil Courts and the alterations substantially altered the interior of the building, compromising its architectural style and historical integrity. The restoration will give the building back its original allure and purpose as the District Court will once again be lodged there.

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Date d'impression : Saturday 18 August 2018
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