a website highlighting the
254 active courthouses in Texas.
First permanent courthouse for county, which was organized in 1856,
but used makeshift quarters for offices and courtrooms until this building
was erected 1890-91. Style is local version of the Second Renaissance Revival.
White limestone for the structure was quarried locally. B.F. Trester of
San Antonio drew the plans--for $5. Contractors: Ed Braden & Sons.
Interior was remodeled and a wing added in 1966. Recorded Texas Historic
First Bandera Courthouse Historical Marker
County agricultural offices, one block southeast of
Highway 16, next to old jail, Bandera.
Georgia stonemason Henry White is credited with building this structure
in 1868. In 1877, a store occupied the first floor and the Masonic Lodge
met on the top floor. County commissioners bought the building that year
to provide space for county offices, then housed in rented quarters. The
county retained ownership of the structure after a larger courthouse was
erected in 1890. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1979
Bandera County Courthouse and Jail
Write up on the National Regester of Historic Places
The large stone shown in front by the street is the
Amasa Clark Memorial
The three-story rusticated cut limestone courthouse built in
1890-91 with a central clock tower, is the focal point of the Bandera public
square, and the dominating architectural feature of the town. The Second
Renaissance Revival-style structure was built of locally quarried white
limestone. The rusticated stone building is bonded in smooth- cut limestone
at water table and belt course, lintels and fluted pilasters. Originally
massed in an ABA rhythm on all four facades, a one-story stone office addition
to the east facade in 1966 has disturbed the continuity of that facade.
The north and south facades consist of a three-story central projecting
pavilion flanked by two-story wings. The central portico is supported by
paired classical columns and crowned by a balustraded balcony above at
the second story level. The east and west facades, are less prominent but
feature cut stone voussoirs at the central pavilion's second level. The
eaves are bracketed on the east and west pavilions, with a dentil cornice
on the flanking two-story portions. The hipped and gabled roof and the
domed cupola are covered with standing-seam metal. Four stone chimneys
pierce the central pavilions of the east and west facades. Additional alterations
to the structure consist of aluminum window replacement in 1966 and interior
renovation. The building is generally in excellent condition, except for
a need to strengthen the cupola at the present time. A one-story, stuccoed
block building separated from the courthouse, but on the public square
was built to the north (rear) of the courthouse in 1938.
Two blocks east of the courthouse stands the two-story vernacular
coursed rubble limestone building used as the courthouse from 1877 to 1891.
It was built in 1869. Local historians differ on the original use of the
building, which is perched on a hill above the former location of an old
cypress mill on the Medina River below and belonged to the same owner.
It is believed to have been built as a residence by one source, and as
a store on the ground floor with Masonic lodge meeting hall above by another.
The very simple vernacular structure with gabled roof (originally covered
by cypress shingles--now roofed with corrugated metal) and single end chimney
has retained the original six-over-six sash windows in the upper floor
of the east and west facades, but windows and doors have been replaced
with newer models on the ground floor and second story south wall. A hooded
brick flue for a stove was added to the west elevation, probably in the
late 19th century.
Adjacent to the old courthouse, joined by a large parking lot, is
the Old Bandera Jail. Built in 1881, the one- story cut stone structure
with castellated parapet on the front (south) wall features elaborate cut
stone hood molds over the four symmetrically placed iron-barred, four-over-
four sash windows on the south facade, with a double door central entry
with barred transom. The entrance is accentuated by the central raised
portion of the parapet wall above inscribed with the building date. Further
elaboration consists of the use of rusticated limestone quoins at the corners
of this main facade, and a water table course surrounding the building.
Two saw-and-file-proof cages were installed. The four-room jail has been
maintained with minimal alterations over the years.
These three county buildings, varying in scale, design and construction
date but all built of local materials, are evidence of the boom-town growth
of post-civil war Bandera (and Texas as a whole) which stopped in this
town and then dwindled in the 20th century. This growth can be traced from
the county's early use of temporary log structure to the purchase of the
more permanent two-story 1869 vernacular structure overlooking the Medina
River, to the subsequent sophistication of the adjacent one-story masonry
jail designed by architect Alfred Giles in 1881 and finally, the elaborate
though unusual local adaptation of Second Renaissance Revival style in
the courthouse designed by B.F. Trester, Jr. in 1891. The three buildings
have remained in continuous use in the community both in governmental and
business functions and are important landmarks to the townspeople.
Bandera County, organized in 1856 in a ranching area, with its primary
industry that of the manufacture of cypress shingles, used makeshift quarters
for jail and courthouse functions until 1877, when the county purchased
the two- story stone vernacular building overlooking the cypress mill which
is now known as the old courthouse. Built for local entrepreneur and mill
owner J.B. Davenport in 1869 by a builder named White, the building served
as county courthouse until the present courthouse was built in 1891. Since
that time it has been leased by the county for various commercial enterprises,
and continues in use as office space.
The present courthouse was designed by a prolific San Antonio architect,
B.F. Trester, Jr. In a two-year period, Trester also designed the Uvalde
County Courthouse, a two- story stone school in Kerrville, Methodist Female
Seminary in San Antonio, a two-story brick store in Beeville, and the Uvalde
Opera House (N.R. 1978) before his death in March of 1891. Builders for
the courthouse were Ed Braden and Sons, with Frankel and Hayden shown as
supervising architects. Apparently a design for the courthouse was submitted
by Alfred Giles and rejected. A one-story jail was built on the square
behind the courthouse in 1938, and a one-story limestone office addition
was built to the east in 1966 when the courthouse was remodeled and the
windows were replaced. Even with these changes, the character and mass
of the building are important to the scale of the tiny town (present population
The elaborate old one-story jail was designed by renowned Texas architect
Alfred Giles. Giles is known for his work in northern Mexico and Texas
after his emigration from England to San Antonio in the last half of the
19th century. Some of the buildings he designed include the Old Gillespie
County Courthouse (N.R. 1971), the Sullivan Stable and Carriage House in
San Antonio (N.R. 1978) and the Schreiner Mansion in Kerrville (N.R. 1975).
Giles' design for the jail was identical to the Bexar County Jail
he built in 1877, except that the scale is smaller. Giles himself acted
as supervising architect, with James A. Courtney acting as contractor.
P. Pauly and Brothers of St. Louis, Missouri, constructed the two saw-
and file-proof cages, as they had for Bexar County, for $2,855. After the
new jail was built in 1938, this building served as a World War II veterans
meeting hall, offices for the Soil Conservation Service, and is now a museum,
leased from the county by the Bandera County Historical Commission.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ON FILE IN THE NATIONAL REGISTER