On April 19, 1838, Robert Handy and William Lusk deeded a block of land in Richmond for use as a courthouse square, now located at Morton and 5th streets. No courthouse was built there until 1850. Prior to this courthouse, court met at a house purchased from William Lusk in June 1842, for $600.00. This location has since been washed away by the Brazos River. In 1849, John H. Herndon was appointed to build a new courthouse on the courthouse square,for $6000.00, which opened for business in 1850. By the 1870s, this courthouse grew inadequate for the needs of the county, so a building was purchased, on Morton Street in 1871, from C.H. Kendall. The courthouse filled the lower two floors and the upper floor was used as a Masonic lodge. This building was destroyed by fire in 1887. The fourth courthouse was built again on the square in 1888. It was built in 1883 by B.F. Trester, and was this courthouse that saw the Jaybird-Woodpecker War. It was a two-story brick Victorian courthouse with bell tower and clock, it burned ca. 1930.
The Jackson Street Courthouse was built in 1908 at a cost of $75,000.00 with the land purchased for $6750.00. The courthouse was dedicated On Jan. 19, 1909, the old court house at 401 Jackson Street in Richmond was formally dedicated to serve the 18,168 residents of Fort Bend.
Designed by C.H. Page and Brothers, the old court house building is a mix of brick and stone, with turrets and a copper dome, with a distinct three-story rotunda. The building's mosaic-tile flooring and green glazed-tile wainscoting have been used as the backdrop of several films and documentaries as well as the location for many high-profile civil and criminal cases.
An addition was added in 1935, and again in 1957 which completed the present courthouse building. In 1980, the 1909 Courthouse was accepted for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, the first structure in Fort Bend County to receive such an honor.
Between 1980 and 1981, the entire Courthouse was renovated to its original grandeur at a cost of $3 million. Since that time, windows have been replaced using a state highway grant. In 2009, the county celebrated the courthouse's 100th birthday.
In 2008, Fort Bend County residents voted to construct a new Fort Bend County Judicial Complex to meet the judicial needs of the county's growing population. The new complex will consolidate all courts and judicial support functions at one location. It will also house the offices of the District and County Courts of Fort Bend County, the District Attorney, the District Clerk and the County Clerk's judicial support staff. Room to add additional courts that will be created by the state legislature as the county continues to grow has been included in the design of the new complex. And for the first time in many years, adequate parking space will be available. When the new complex was dedicated July 5, 2011, the 1908 Courthouse will be carefully restored and preserved for future generations to enjoy as part of Fort Bend's rich history.
The 1908 Courthouse Architect
PAGE, CHARLES HENRY (1876-1957). Charles H. Page, architect, was born in 1876 in St. Louis, Missouri, to where his parents, Charles Henry and Mary Ann Page, had immigrated from England. His father was a mason and contractor. The family moved to Austin, Texas, in 1886; Page's father worked on the construction of the Capitol. Page was trained in architecture in the office of the local builder-architect Burt McDonald and began practice at the age of nineteen in the firm of Makin and Page. He was in independent practice as C. H. Page, Jr., in 1898 but was soon joined by his brother Louis. His first major commission was for the first Austin National Bank building on Congress Avenue. In 1903 he received the commission for the Texas Building at the St. Louis World's Fair. During his more than sixty years of practice. Page's firm grew substantially in size and prestige and designed hundreds of schools and courthouses. Among his varied works of interest is the art deco Travis County Courthouse (1930–36) in Austin. Page died in Austin on October 5, 1957, leaving his firm, C. H. Page and Son, to Charles Henry Page, Jr.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hank Todd Smith, ed., Austin, Its Architects and Architecture (Austin Chapter, American Institute of Architects, 1986). Roxanne Williamson, Austin, Texas: An American Architectural History (San Antonio: Trinity University Press, 1973).
"PAGE, CHARLES HENRY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpa76), accessed July 17, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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