Robertson County TX
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R O B E R T S O N
COUNTY COURTHOUSE & JAIL
31 01 30 N / -96 29 09 W, [Hwy. 79 & FM 46, park near railroad
Texas Historic Marker reads: "This community was established in 1872
and named Morgan for a railroad official. Located on the right-of-way
of the International Railway Company, the town contained a depot and
three stores in its first year. By 1879, the town had 200 residents and
voters transferred the county seat from Calvert to Morgan. The
community applied for a post office in 1880. Another Texas post office
was named Morgan, so the town name was changed to Franklin after the
name of the original county seat. A stone courthouse, designed by
Frederick Ernst Ruffini, was completed in 1882. The town's first
newspaper, the Franklin Weekly, was published by J. A. Keigewin. By
1885, Franklin had three hotels, three churches, and two gristmills.
Mineral springs attracted people to the area for many years. A cemetery
was formally established in 1880 at a site where several graves were
already in existence. The community's first school building, a frame
structure, burned in 1894 and another was erected. The First National
Bank of Franklin was charted in 1905; the First State Bank was
established in 1913. A Carnegie Library was built and equipped with an
auditorium. By the 1970s, Franklin, an incorporated community, had a
mayor-council form of city government."
31 01 36 N / -96 29 14 W, [Courthouse Square],
Plans for a courthouse
were begun in 1879 and in 1881 construction began.
Robertson County's original three-story Second Empire-style courthouse, designed by Frederick
Ernst Ruffini, was completed in 1882 at a cost of $30,000.
This dressed white limestone building is the fourth building to serve
as Robertson County Courthouse. The courthouse was
substantially remodeled in 1924 in the Mission Revival style with brick
Alamo parapets and tin eaves at the cornices.
Efforts are underway in 2003 to try to restore the courthouse
building to its original 1880s design. The courthouse sits in
the middle of Franklin's picturesque courthouse square.
Robertson County Jail
31 01 36 N / -96 29 14 W, [Courthouse Square],
Built in 1881,
Robertson County Jail is a three-story, dressed limestone, Victorian
structure with low hipped tin roof. Modified over the years,
the building is T-shape in plan. Although a modern county law
enforcement facility has been added to the landscape in recent years,
the old jail sits next to the courthouse in Franklin's courthouse
National Register Of Historic Places
The present Robertson
County Courthouse was designed on a classical Texas plan in Second
Empire style by architect Frederick Ernst Ruffini, who employed this
mode in numerous other courthouses. The exterior dimensions of the
building are 81 feet, 11 inches by 66 feet, 5 inches. Specifications
called for the first story to be 13 feet high; the second to be 11 feet
with a courtroom height of 20 feet; and the third story was to be 12
feet in the clear. In rectangular form, the
plan was zoned for offices on the ground level and district courtroom
on the second. Two corridors intersecting in the center provided
circulation to the offices. The courtroom was a two-story space
centered on the second floor. Offices located in the pavilions occupied
the third level space not in the upper section of the courtroom.
Remodeling has changed the locations of several of the interior walls.
completed, the courthouse was an outstanding example of Second Empire
style. The south (main) facade is a five-part composition with corner
pavilions, center pavilion, and connecting components all crowned with
Mansardic roofs relieved with dormers made of galvanized iron. Rising
above the center was a triangular pediment surmounted by a Mansardic
roof with convex curvature, containing clocks. The cast and west fronts
are comprised of three part compositions, also originally crowned with
Mansardic roofs. The north facade consists of one prominent mass
flanked by pavilions. The exterior masonry
work is noteworthy. Above a foundation of rubble stone set with lime
mortar all the rock work, except the trim, was pitched-faced in ashlar
pattern. Door and window jambs were smooth cut stone with one and one-
fourth inch margins. The Renaissance
stylistic vocabulary was fully exploited in the details. On the ground
story, cut stone pilasters frame the walls of the pavilions. On this
level windows containing double-hung sashes are spanned with stilted
arches with pronounced keystones. The south entrance is marked by a
Roman arch with cut stone voussoirs. This was originally flanked by
pilasters with Corinthianesque capitals which are now gone. These
supported an entablature and balcony which also have been removed.
Other doorways were spanned with stilted arches. A cut stone
stringcourse separated the base-story walls from the upper level walls.
as compositional units, the exterior walls of the courtroom and the
flanking two levels of offices continued the Renaissance theme.
Pronounced cut-stone quoins contrasted with the pitched-faced ashlar
masonry -- as below. Openings on this level are spanned with Roman
arches of cut stone comprised of four voussoirs and a pronounced
keystone. Windows originally rising uninterrupted for two stories in
the center three openings of the south side expressed the courtroom
space while spandrels in the openings of the pavilions express the
multilevel arrangement of offices.
metal was used extensively on the exterior both emotionally and
decoratively. A heavy galvanized-iron cornice featuring prominent
modillion terminated the walls. Two pediments were also fabricated from
this material as were the dormer windows. Galvanized iron also was
employed the chimney caps and down spouts. Stamped zinc was specified
for several other ornamental features. The flat decks of the roofs and
roofs of the pediments were all covered with tin. However, for the
steep sides of the Mansard roofs, dark colored slate from Vermont or
Virginia was specified.
Although none of several
Robertson County Courthouse was ever damaged by flames, Ruffini was
familiar with losses from fire in other counties and provided record.
The vaults are built entirely of bricks. Double walls with an airspace
between provide insulation against intense heat. Each masonry vault
records is covered with a barrel vault of semicircular cross-sectional
profile, and floors were finished with hard pavince brick.
interior details are also noteworthy. Hung on iron acorn-tipped butts,
the doors are pine with four panels and bronze knobs. Ventilation of
the interior spaces was facilitated by transoms located above these
doors. The wooden trim of the
interior was typical of the period. For the stairways, specifications
called for octagonal newel posts, balusters, and handrails to be black
walnut. Pine was used throughout for other interior millwork. The
courtroom and halls were wainscoted to a height of three feet with
narrow matched and beaded "ceiling stuff" capped with a molding.
in the exterior include the removal of all the original roofs and
cornices. These have been replaced by parapets and overhangs covered
with tile, all suggesting Spanish Renaissance character. On the south
the entrance has been simplified in design and a porch has been added
on the east. An annex with ransom ashlar mansonry walls has been made
on the north and west. This should be excluded from National Register
Located on the northwest
corner of the square, the jail was on a T-shaped plan. The main section
(bar of the T) of the jail is 49 feet wide and 20 feet deep. The ground
floor story height is 12 feet in the clear. On the ground floor a
central hall provides circulation to the kitchen, a large room
(parlor?), and the cell rooms. Containing cells, the second story of
this section is 11 feet clear. Facilitating segregation of prisoners, a
rear extension (stem of the T) is 27 feet wide and 36 feet deep with 18
feet clear from floor to ceiling. Cells 7 feet by 8 by 7 are of
hardened iron and steel, "saw and file proof," manufactured the P. J.
Pauly Jail Building and Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri.
These were moved from an old jail in Calvert. In addition the other
miscellaneous iron work was reused.
in the courthouse, the walls of the jail were pitched faced ashlar.
While the design of the building is relatively straightforward subtle
details enhance the work. On the second floor of the main section
opening are spanned by lintels; on the ground story stilted arches span
the openings. Simple lintels also span openings of the rear extension.
decorative details enhance the main building. Pilasters of cut stone
emphasize the corners. These terminated under a cornice with heavy
brackets. Several additions have
been made to the jail. These include a porch on the south and a new
brick wing located on the west. These additions should be excluded from
National Register status.
The Robertson County
Courthouse and Jail posses both architectural and historical
significance. Although remodeled, the courthouse still displays much of
the original detail work of a fine Second Empire style building.
Situated on a public square in the center of the community, these
structures historically have served the governmental functions of the
county throughout the twentieth century.
in East Central Texas, Robertson County was organized in 1838, during
the period in which Texas was a republic. It was named for Sterling C.
Robertson, an impresario and signer of the Texas Declaration of
Independence, and originally included a considerable amount of land
that is now a part of surrounding counties. The present county
boundaries were established in 1846.
often happened in Texas, the location of the Robertson county seat was
changed several times. The original location was Old Franklin, but the
county seat was moved to the town of Wheelock in 1850, after the
present boundaries were established. However, since this community was
near the southern county line, it was not favorably located to serve
county government. Following an election in 1854, wherein residents
voted upon the county seat question, the site of government was
transferred to Owensville and in 1870, by an act of legislature, it was
moved to Calvert. Then in 1879, county government was moved to Morgan,
a town that had been established in 1871, adjacent to the
International-Great Northern Railroad and the town name was changed to
Franklin. The seat of government has remained permanently in this
community which is near the geographical center of the county. Today
the population of Franklin is over 1,000.
1855, while continuing to hold their meetings in Wheelock, a new
courthouse in Owensville was contracted with A. L. Brigance, who, at
the time, was also the chief justice. The work on this building was
completed the following year. In 1856, a lot in Owensville was set
aside for a jail and the old courthouse in Wheelock was sold, after
which county government was officially transferred to the new
courthouse in Owensville. A jail which also had been contracted with
James b. Grant and Alexander Calvert in 1855 was also completed in
1856. during the following year, an oak fence evidently was placed
around the public square and several contracts were awarded for repairs
to both the courthouse and jail. In 1869, money was set aside to
purchase shingles and lumber to repair the courthouse and bids were
requested for a new jail, but these were laid aside since the seat of
government was moved to Calvert.
After moving to the new
location, a house was rented for $50.00 per month to house the clerk's
offices. In 1879, Court was hold in an unidentified building with
floors covered was sawdust. Meanwhile, new construction on both a
courthouse and a jail was delayed. In 1876, the county the second story
of a brick building (evidently a commercial structure) for governmental
purposes. Finally, during that year a new brick jail was commenced. Geo
V. McClintick, M. D. McGee, D. R. Coleman, and W. H. McGee were the
contractors of the building costing $11,000, which was destined to be
used as a jail only for a short time.
after the 1879 election determined that the county offices would be
moved to Franklin (Morgan), where temporary quarters were again
occupied, county commissioners began considerations for new buildings
and within two months had accepted plans prepared by F. E. Ruffinni of
Austin for a new jail and sheriff's office. After advertising for bids
in the Galveston Daily News, the contract to build the new jail was
awarded to James P. Smith for $11,485. It was built on the "jail
square" (public square). The jail was completed and accepted by the
county that same year and the old jail in Calvert was sold.
the county officers were again located in the second story of a rented
building. Evidently satisfied with architect Ruffini's services on the
new jail, in 1881, the commissioners' court authorized F. E. Ruffini to
develop plans for a new courthouse with walls of Austin limestone for a
cost of $30,000 or less. J. B. Smith was awarded the contract to
complete the building within ten months.
in 1881, the county officials commended both the architect and
contractor for their fine work and accepted the courthouse. An iron
fence installed two years later completed the nineteenth century work.
After serving county
functions for over four decades, county officials determined to remodel
the building. Hix McCanless was the architect and the contractor was
Babe Wilson. It was evidently during this work that the annex was made
and the roof lines altered. Nonetheless the building retains much of
its historic character and it should be preserved for the benefit of
From the Robertson County Website
(No longer online, looking for new URL)
first meeting of the commissioners court in Franklin was held March 8,
1880. Judge T. J. Simmons presided and was authorized to sell lots and
blocks belonging to the county. At this meeting I. R. Overall was
authorized to select the location for the erection of a jail "on the
The contract for the construction of the jail was let to Captain James
Smith. R. E. Ruffini was employed to serve as architect for the
project. The jail was completed in due time and it was considered a
fine example of modern architecture. Its frontal width was forty-nine
feet and its depth twenty feet. It was a two-story structure and the
cells in the prison were "7'x8' wide and 7' high." The installed
interior was of hardened iron and steel, some of which came from the
old Calvert jail. The walls were of grooved stone, smooth on top, with
close joints and the exterior was finished masonry.
The court paid Smith $862.00 for his work and issued a voucher to
Ruffini in the amount of $302 for his supervision of the project.
Commissioners, including the two Negroes in membership, were so pleased
with the jail they authorized Smith and Ruffini to prepare plans for a
courthouse that would not cost more than $30,000.00.
In January, 1881, John E. Crawford succeeded Simmons in office as
county judge. Two months later, on March 16, 1881, a contract was let
to Smith and Ruffini for the erection of the courthouse and the work
was completed on January 7, 1882. When the court met in March, Judge
Crawford insisted that the records show the gratitude of the people to
the men who had built "the most handsome and splendid structure in the
The minutes of the commissioners court read as follows: "It is ordered
by the court that we express our entire satisfaction with the said
building considering it one of the most handsome and splendid
structures in the State. We heartily recommend F. E. Ruffini as one of
the most accomplished architects in the State of Texas.
In reference to Captain Smith, the Judge wrote:
Be it ordered and resolved that the court extend to Captain J. B. Smith
a vote of many thanks and to recommend him to the public as a gentleman
in whom the utmost confidence can be placed as a builder of rare
Frederick Ernst Ruffini was the architect of the Robertson County
courthouse and jail in Franklin.
Information about Mr.
Ruffini is online at Frederick
The Texas State Library & Archives Commission & the
Alexander Architectural Archive of the General Libraries at the
University of Texas at Austin both have information about these
buildings in their collections, including some floor plans and
Texas State Archives & Library Commission.
F. E. and Oscar Ruffini: An Inventory of the
Ruffini Collection. Information is online at
Of particular interest is the following quote from the narrative
accompanying the Ruffini Collection inventory:
"From the extant drawings and photographs,
it appears F. E. Ruffini used a few basic courthouse plans, and then
made each building distinctive by details such as stonework, window
treatment, and roof line. The Gregg and Rusk county courthouses differ
only in details. The Robertson, Navarro, Williamson, and Hays county
courthouses are based on one plan, though the Navarro County Courthouse
appears more elaborate and was designed with a central clock tower
instead of one over the front entrance."
To view a listing of
TSLAC holdings relating to the Robertson County Courthouse &
Jail (and courthouses and jails based on similar plans), go to
& Jail Comparisons.
Architectural Archive of the General Libraries at the University of
Texas at Austin.
F. E. Ruffini: An Index To His Collection.
about this collection is online at
Processing is not completed. Please see archival staff for
Although F. E. Ruffini
and his architect brother Oscar are sometimes identified as Italians,
culturally they were Germans. Italian ancestors had emigrated
to Kamenz, in what is now Germany, about five hundred years before the
brothers were born.
Hix McCanless (alternate
spellings might include McCandless or McCanliess) was the architect for
the 1923 - 1924 renovations to the Robertson County
Courthouse. During this period, the courthouse was totally
gutted and completely rebuilt inside. Major modifications
were also made to the exterior of the building. Hix McCanless
was born on March 20, 1868 in Pulaski, Giles County, TN. He
was the son of Stephen S. & Mary X. Bass McCanless.
Young Hix left Tennessee in the 1870s and settled with his parents in
Ennis, Ellis County, Texas. Mr. McCanless was educated in the
Ennis Public Schools and began the study of architecture at an early
age. He attended Texas A&M at College
Station. Hix McCanless was the
leading designer and builder in Ennis during the first part of the 20th
century. He designed buildings with various architectural
styles. These included: Barrington House, City
Hall, John Rowe, Knights of Pythias, Telfair House, McCanless-Williams
House, Meredith-McDowal House, two bungalows, and other
McCanless was well known for combining architectural elements from
various styles and periods. The city plat records reveal that
he was also involved in surveying and platting several additions
between 1913 and 1925, as both a civil engineer and later as the city
engineer. The Templeton-McCanless Historic District in Ennis
is partially named for him.
Hix McCanless' brother,
Ernest, was a prominent architect in Dallas and constructed significant
buildings there. Several McCanless family members are buried
in Ennis' Myrtle Cemetery.
- 1924 Courthouse Renovations
Democrat, Friday, December 21,
1923, "Court House Improvements - Started Last Monday"
The November term of
District court expired by operation of law Saturday, December 15, after
a rather busy term.
The District Judge and
officers of the court, as well as members of the bar, have been right
busy for the last several weeks, and much business has been disposed
of. All of the inside of the old structure, that has served as a Temple
of Justice -- and perhaps at times of injustice-- for forty years, will
be torn out and only the outside walls will remain, after which it will
be reconstructed on the inside in an efficient and up-to-date form.
Work began Monday
morning, December 17, and will be pushed as rapidly as possible-- let
Considerable changes in
locations of the county’s servants, at which they will hold
forth to serve the public, will be made necessary and the arrangements
are as follows:
The K. P. Hall will be
used for the District court room. Hon. Ben L. Parten, County Attorney,
will occupy offices in the Mitchell building. Judge Joe Reid, County
Judge, will hold forth in the Love building. Professor W.R. Goodman,
County Superintendent of Schools, in the Love building. The county
Clerk and Assessor will occupy offices temporarily constructed for that
purpose, Hon. J. P. Truett, County Treasurer, will be at the first
National Bank. Hon. Sam Rogers, Tax Collector, will be at First State
Bank. The Sheriff will be in the Mitchell building.
Democrat, Friday, July 11, 1924,
"District Court Opened in New Court House Monday"
While installation of
furnishings and removal of offices is not complete, the work had
progressed sufficiently to permit the use of the built over court house
for the opening of the July term.
Judge W. Davis, being
detained in New York City, where he is serving his country and his
party as delegate from this district to the Democratic National
convention, the bar elected Judge J. L. Goodman, by unanimous vote to
serve as special District Judge. He was placed in nomination by J.
Felton Lane, and it was moved and carried that Judge Goodman be elected
The grand jury was then
empaneled and charged, and entered upon their labors immediately.
There being no jury for
this week, only non-jury civil matters will be taken up.
Democrat, Friday, July 18, 1924,
"New Court House, Source of County Pride"
The Democrat is sure
that every citizen of this county, who has been in attendance upon this
term of the District Court or for other reasons has visited the County
Capital, feels proud of the fine new court house just now being
It is a modern
fire-proof building, steam-heated throughout, with reinforced concrete
columns, beams, and floors; walls angle iron with metal lathe, and
plastered; vaults reinforced concrete 12 inch walls; equipped with
steel office furniture; District Court room and Commissioners Court
room equipped with quarter sawed oak furniture; and generally a first
class, commodious and substantial structure.
The general contract
price is forty six thousand, nine hundred and twenty-six dollars, while
the heating and plumbing contract is eight thousand and ninety-one
While credit is due
several citizens of the county for agitating the need of a new court
house in the place of the old one which for perhaps forty years or more
has occupied this site, particular credit is due Judge Joe Reid, County
judge of the county, and the Commissioners Court for inaugurating the
work and for their careful supervision during its progress and for
securing so much in the way of permanent value and convenience for the
citizenship of this county at such small cost.
Two capable and
trustworthy architects have looked over the building in detail since
its completion and have pronounced the building will worth from one
hundred and twenty-five to one hundred and fifty thousand dollars,
which verifies the good judgment of the County Judge and Commissioners
in salvaging the old walls and as much of the old structure as possible
instead of contracting for a new building throughout as is the
customary way of doing such things.
- 1974 Courthouse Renovations
Architect's Drawing 1973. M.
O. Lawrence of Bryan was the architect in charge of the 1972 remodeling
of the Robertson County Courthouse.
County Clerk Annex Added In 1923
Removed In 1973.
During the 1923 reconstruction, an annex was added for the County
Clerk’s Office. This was removed during the 1973 remodeling
and the South entrance was restored to its original appearance.
Under Construction 1973. South
entrance after the removal of the 1923 annex. The
exterior surfaces were returned to the original stone and appearance.
Depicts recently renovated courthouse with the addition of central air
and heating, rewiring, plumbing and installation of an elevator to the
Democrat, December 14, 1972,
"Extensive Remodeling for Courthouse Building"
Plans for an extensive
remodeling of the Robertson County Courthouse are currently being
prepared, according to Gervase Reagan, county judge.
The remodel plans will
call for an expenditure of from $300-$325,000 said Reagan which will
come through federal government funding as provide by the State and
Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972.
portions of this revenue sharing program amounts to $161,000 each year
for five years.
Reagan explained that
the amount issued to various levels of government is proportioned
primarily on a population basis.
The county was scheduled
to receive its first check this week for $80,500 which is retroactive
to the first half of 1972.
Another check for the
same amount is scheduled to come in January and will constitute a
retroactive payment for the second half of 1972.
Following that, checks
will be sent to the county on a quarterly basis.
In additions to the
remodeling of the courthouse, Reagan said two other issues are under
consideration in regard to new building programs in the county complex.
One of these proposals
is the construction of a separate wing designed to office federal and
state departments currently located ion the second floor of the
Reagan noted that this
is a tentative proposal and will require meetings and agreements with
federal and state representatives before definite details are concluded
Another proposal in the
works is the construction of a new jail.
Reagan said that if this
proposal is approved, it will be financed separately from the
courthouse construction and will not use funds provided by the fiscal
assistance act of 1972. He mentioned it would utilize funds made
available through a different federal grant with the county providing
25% of the cost. Further, he pointed out, by law the county is not able
to use part of the $161,000 grant to match the federal funds in the
proposed jail construction.
Reagan said the county
has already conducted extensive testing to determine the strength of
the courthouse foundation.
Two engineers and three
architects plus a Bryan testing firm, checked the foundation thoroughly
and took soil samples for analysis. These checks showed the foundation
to be in A-1 condition, said the judge.
The reliability of the
foundation makes a remodel feasible, rather that having to resort to a
complete new building. Reagan noted that would run the costs excess on
one million dollars and therefore the remodel program affords the
county the opportunity to use solely federal funds plus have money left
over to usage in other manners.
Marion O. Lawrence Jr.
of Bryan is the architect handling the plans for the courthouse remodel.
He said the preliminary
planning phase has been completed and approved by the county
commissioners. He is currently involved in the design and development
phase that is scheduled to be submitted for approval in the near future.
Following approval, the
program will move into the third of five phases involved in initial
planning to complete construction.
The third phase will
include creation and approval of working drawings and actual
specifications which will constitute a contract document.
Next on the schedule
will be the bidding phase.
Lawrence said he will
produce plans for a base bid for the courthouse with alternates that
will take into consideration the construction of the proposed wing to
hold state and federal offices and work on the county welfare office
The final phase is the
Reagan said one of the
features of the courthouse remodel will be the installation of
elevators that will be in line with general updating or modernization
of the courtly facilities.
He added that one of the
main goals of the program is a more effective use of space available in
an effort to streamline county government functions.
Democrat, March 8, 1973,
"Commissioners Approve Courthouse Remodeling"
Commissioners on February 26 gave final approval on plans for an
extensive remodeling and construction project that will give a new look
to the entire courthouse complex.
Estimated costs total
$430,000 for a remodeling of the courthouse; the construction of a new
annex to house federal state, and some portion of county offices; a
remodeling of the state welfare offices; and the construction of new
The plans are now in the
hands of M. O. Lawrence, Bryan architect who plans to begin letting
bids on March 5. He plans to have the bids in by April 9, with actual
construction set for May 1.
County Judge Gervase
Reagan said no money will be used for the county building fund in the
construction project. The costs will be paid from the money the county
received through the general revenue sharing program as provided under
the State and Local Fiscal Assistance Act of 1972.
The county has received
$168,000 under the provisions of the act that is retroactive to 1972. A
similar amount is scheduled to be sent to the county each year through
1975. Judge Reagan noted the county expects to retire the building
costs in less than three years by using the revenue sharing funds
almost solely for this purpose.
During the same time
period when the county was receiving the revenue sharing funds,
application had been made for a planning grant to determine the needs,
costs and feasibility of building a new county jail.
The planning grant,
completely separate from the revenue sharing fund, was awarded to the
county in January and totals $16,000. The county was actively assisted
by the Brazos Valley Economic Development Council in securing the grant.
This is a 75-25 fund
matching program with the county putting up twenty-five percent of the
cost. However, Reagan said services-in-kind for county
officials’ time and facilities would make up a value of
approximately $3,000, requiring the county to contribute only $1,000 in
The jailhouse project is
administered through the Texas Criminal Justice Council with the funds
being channeled to the state from the Law Enforcement Administration, a
In order to receive the
federal funds,, the county must comply with federal guidelines that
include, among other things, provisions that jailer’s
quarters must be separate from the jail and that a male and female
jailer must be on duty at all times.
The current jail has
living quarters attached and Sheriff E. P. (Sonny) Elliott and his
wife, supplemented by deputies, have tended to prisoners’
The commissioners and
the judge decided from cost studies the county would be better off to
build new, separate quarters for the sheriff and his wife rather that
to employ two jailers twenty-four hours a day. Figuring at the minimum
wage of $1.60 an hour, two people on duty at all times would cost the
county over $2,300 per month. With this figure in mind, said the judge,
the new quarters will be paid for in less than 15 months through
savings on labor. At the same time the county will be acquiring a new
Features of the
courthouse remodel include the installation of an elevator, central
heat and air, and new plumbing and wiring. Reagan pointed out that a
large portion of the estimated costs would go to the last two areas.
Office space and storage facilities will be increased. Vaults will be
placed at building corners to take advantage of the thick walls
employed in the original construction. Lawrence said the exterior will
be restored to its original state ‘to preserve the flavor of
the old courthouse.’ A complete schedule of interior work is
expected to bring the courthouse appearance to more acceptable
standards. The decision to remodel rather that rebuild the courthouse
was made as a result of testing that showed the building and
it’s foundation to be structurally sound.
A new wing is planned
to be added to the west side of the courthouse. The outside dimensions
are 92’ by 61’ and will contain the county clerks
office, plus state and federal office space. In addition of office
space, it will feature ample storage facilities and two meeting rooms
for conferences held by various agencies and public gatherings.
OFFICES. The offices of the
Texas State Department of public Welfare will be revamped under the
building program. The interior will be re-designed to better utilize
space available, central air and heat will be installed and extensive
roof repair is planned.
jailer’s quarters are to be located immediately north of the
jail. It will be a three bedroom home designed to be easily converted
to offices should future needs require such a move.
Reagan has been working
closely with government officials to insure the county is complying
with federal requirements attached to the funds. He and county auditor
Glenn Brewer were in Austin February 8 conferring with B. R. Fuller,
acting executive director of the criminal council administering the
funds. Reagan and Brewer outlined in detail the county’s
plans on spending the revenue sharing money and Fuller indicated they
are in line with the government’s guidelines.
One of the fist steps
that will be taken when the planning grant is received for the proposed
jail will be the employment of an architect versed not only in penal
building but also in federal specifications in their construction.
Democrat, April 25, 1973,
"Commissioners Court Lets $565,484 Remodel Job"
Commissioners Court passed approval on a building contract in the
amount of $565,484 to Amber Construction, Inc. of Austin for the
remodel and renovation of the courthouse complex.
The approved bid is more
than $135,000 over the initial estimate figured by the architect, M. O.
Lawrence of Bryan. Amber’s first bid was $670,100 and it was
only after the contractor and the architect engaged in a whittling
session that the final figure was developed and approved.
Cuts were made in 15
areas ranging from $150.00 to $67,900. The main expenditure deleted was
the construction of separate jailer’s quarters that was
planned in order to put the county in a position to receive federal
funding for use in construction a new jail.
Amber had bid the three
bedroom brick structure at the sixty-seven thousand dollar figure. The
next largest dollar saving was the conversion from an electric to a
hydraulic system to operate the planned courthouse elevator. This
change netted the county over $10,000.
The contract was let by
a 3-1 vote. In favor of the motion were Commissioners C.F. McCormick,
Oliver Burns and Doyle Caldwell. Herman White voted against the measure.
No specific date has
been set for construction to being although work is anticipated to
start before the end of the month. County officials have rented various
buildings in Franklin to use while construction is in progress.
The remodel features a
complete updating of facilities including the installation of the
elevator plus central air conditioning and heating. A major part of the
program will be the building of an annex to the immediate west of the
courthouse. The facility will be used by the county clerk, additional
county offices and will also house state or federal agencies.
Judge Gervase Reagan
noted funding for the construction is being made through federal monies
provided by general revenue sharing.
The county has already
received $167,000 of the money and under terms of the program can
expect to receive a like amount each year for the next four years.
Company of Bryan submitted a building bid of $683,600.00. A third
contractor had been expected to submit a bid but cancelled as a result
of a failure to accumulate plumbing costs, according to Lawrence.
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