Bell Plaza Inscriptions

 

North side

The Fire

On Jan 1, 1993 at 6:35 p.m., the first alarm was sounded that there was a fire at the Hill County Courthouse. Hillsboro Firefighters quickly responded to find a third floor office engulfed in flames, within minutes flames spread to the bell tower. Hill County citizens gathered around the square, while others watched on TV as the 70 ft. tower collapsed in flames. The next morning the rim of the bell was visible through the ceiling of the first floor hallway. Fifteen Hill County fire departments, along with fire fighters from other counties, battled the flames throughout the night. The official cause of the fire was electrical.

 


East side

Courthouse History

Hill County was organized on May 14, 1853. The Courthouse square is near the geographic center of the county and has been the site for five courthouse buildings. The present building was completed in 1890, McShane Bell Factory of Baltimore, Maryland was commissioned to cast the bell, which weighed 1, 525 lbs., the clock was constructed by E. Howard Watch and Clock Company of Boston, Massachusetts   Both were added to the tower in 1891. The bell marked the hours for 102 years until its supports were consumed by fire on Jan. 1, 1993.

 


West side

The Restoration

     Talk of restoring the 1890 structure started before the final hot spots were extinguished. Architects with the Texas Historical Commission ruled the building was restorable and on Jan. 11, 1993 the Hill County Historical Commission called a county- wide meeting to organize the restoration effort. Local fund raising projects, including 2 concerts on the square by Hill county native Willie Nelson and grants contributed to the restoration. The project was also aided by Insurance proceeds, Texas Department of Transportation ISTEA Funds and certificates of obligation issued by the county Architexas of  Dallas was engaged to oversee the restoration with Bryan Construction Company and R. J. King Construction as contractors. The restored building was dedicated April 24, 1999 with Texas Governor George W. Bush as the keynote speaker.

 


 South Side

Elected Officials at the time of the Fire/Restoration

County Judges
Tommy Walker Andrea Holt Kenneth Davis
Precinct Commissioners
M. L. (Bud) Raulston #1 J. K. Lane #1 Kenneth Reid #2
Bobbie Brustrom #3 Mildred Brustrom #3 John Erwin #4
Hill County Historical Commission Architects
Architexas of Dallas Craig Melde Larry Irisk Gary Skotnicki
Contractors
Bryan Constructions Company R. J. King Construction
Donor
George C. and Alva Hudson Smith Foundation
Board of Directors
Betty R. Dohoney D'Etta Cowan Bob R. Moon Andrew L Smith John B. Tuggle