Remember the Bexar County Courthouse!
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
February 15, 2001

Yes, your Bexar County Commissioner's Court hopes that many generations will remember not only the Bexar County Courthouse, but also the people who built this County over its years since 1836.  No, the Courthouse was not built in 1836.  It is actually the fourth Courthouse in our one hundred and sixty-four, going on one hundred and sixty five-year history as a County. 

And while I am speaking of Counties, I believe it is significant to note that Bexar County was one of the original twenty-three counties formed under the Republic of Texas in 1836, just after the Battle of San Jacinto.  Our county at that time and just for a short while, stretched into southern Wyoming!  Five years after Texas' annexation to the United States, the Congress in the Compromise of 1850, adopted the current configuration of Texas.  Subsequently, the authorization of new counties reduced the configuration of Bexar County to its present design.

To preserve this grand monument to our community and its people, Commissioner's Court this week once again addresses the restoration of the Bexar County Courthouse.  Just ride down Dwyer Avenue and you will see one of the telltale traces of the challenges we face.  To avoid the possibility of liability from falling pieces of sandstone from the Courthouse, a scaffold has been erected on the sidewalk near its northeast corner.

Groundbreaking for this the fourth Courthouse for Bexar County and the largest historic courthouse in Texas was on August 4, 1891.  Constructing with Texas granite and red sandstone, architect J. Riely Gordon had built more than a dozen of this type of courthouse in Texas.  Since its initial construction, the Courthouse was enlarged in 1914, 1926 and again in 1970.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the only major remaining structure of the Romanesque revival style in the San Antonio area.

Many of you may remember that the Texas Legislature in 1999 passed a $50 million Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Grant Program to assist in the restoration of a number of courthouses throughout the State.  Bexar County was fortunate to be virtually the only large County to receive funding.  With the combined State of Texas and Bexar County funding, your Commissioners' Court will preserve the masonry, conduct investigations into various conditions afflicting the building, recommend measures to protect the Courthouse from pigeons, bats and other such animals and provide for fire protection, among other things.

So, next time you take a trip downtown, take another view of your Courthouse.  There's none other quite like it in the State.  No other Courthouse has the challenge of competing with such historic buildings like the Alamo, but then we are proud to be associated together in the same great City and County! 

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