Robertson County TX

 
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TXGenWeb Robertson County

R O B E R T S O N COUNTY COURTHOUSE & JAIL     

Photo to extreme left on top row from History Of Robertson County, p. 173.
First photo to left in middle row from Ted's Texas Courthouse Photos. Two photos in center of middle row from capitolshots.com.
Second photo from left on bottom row from History Of Robertson County, p. 172.

 
Franklin Historic Marker
31 01 30 N / -96 29 09 W, [Hwy. 79 & FM 46, park near railroad tracks], Map
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."
Robertson County Courthouse
31 01 36 N / -96 29 14 W, [Courthouse Square], Map
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. 
  THC Survey
Robertson County Jail
31 01 36 N / -96 29 14 W, [Courthouse Square], Map

Built in 1881,
the 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 square. 
THC Survey
National Register Of Historic Places Listing
www.txgenweb7.org/txrobertson/Court//RobertsonCountyCourthouse.htm
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. When 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. Designed 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. Sheet 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. Other 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. Changes 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 status.

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. As 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. Other 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. Located 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. As 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. In 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. Shortly 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. Meanwhile, 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. Late 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 future generations.

From the Robertson County Website
(No longer online, looking for new URL)

The 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 courthouse square."  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 State." 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 ability."
Frederick Ernst Ruffini
1851 - 1885
Frederick Ernst Ruffini was the architect of the Robertson County courthouse and jail in Franklin.  Information about Mr. Ruffini is online at Frederick Ernst Ruffini 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 architectural drawings.

Texas State Archives & Library Commission
.  F. E. and Oscar Ruffini:  An Inventory of the Ruffini Collection.  Information is online at www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/tslac/40060/tsl-40060.html.  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 Courthouse & Jail Comparisons.

Alexander Architectural Archive of the General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin.  F. E. Ruffini:  An Index To His Collection.  Information about this collection is online at www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/utaaa/00080/aaa-00080.html.  Processing is not completed.  Please see archival staff for more information.

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
1868 - 1938

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 structures. Mr. 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.

1923 - 1924 Courthouse Renovations
 
Hearne 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 us hope.

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.

Hearne 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 by acclamation.

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.

Hearne 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 completed.

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 dollars.

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.

1972 - 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.
7.4.1974.  Depicts recently renovated courthouse with the addition of central air and heating, rewiring, plumbing and installation of an elevator to the three floors.
Hearne 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.

The county’s 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 courthouse.

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 building.

The final phase is the actual construction.

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.

Hearne Democrat, March 8, 1973, "Commissioners Approve Courthouse Remodeling"

Roberson County 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 jailer’s quarters.

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 cash.

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 federal agency.

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’ needs.

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 capital asset.

COURTHOUSE. 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.

ANNEX. 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.

WELFARE 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.

JAILERS QUARTERS. The 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.

Hearne Democrat, April 25, 1973, "Commissioners Court Lets $565,484 Remodel Job"

Robertson County 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.

Sentry Construction 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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Page Modified: 31 August 2014

                                                                        

 


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