Hood County Courthouse - Granbury

Hood County Courthouse

100 E. Pearl St., Granbury, TX  76048

“The Hood County Courthouse is the bright and shining icon of our local government. Both of my grandfathers were born in Hood County in the year that this courthouse was constructed.  My mother and father worked with the Hood County Historical Society and the Texas Historical Commission to obtain the historical marker on the courthouse.  I am honored to have served as Hood County Judge, worked in the courthouse and helped to obtain the grant to restore the courthouse and helped with the initial stages of the restoration.  My family and I are proud to have helped preserve this beautiful building for future generations.”  
– Andy Rash, Retired Hood County Judge

“The Hood County Courthouse is the heart and soul of our community. Built of native limestone in the middle of a town square influenced by our native Upland South culture, the courthouse gives Granbury its special sense of place and unique charm. Our courthouse reflects the past, significantly contributes to the present, and now heralds a shining future for Hood County.”
– Mary Saltarelli, Consulting Executive Director, Preserve Granbury

Architectural Description

The Hood County Courthouse acts as the centerpiece of the vibrant historic downtown square of Granbury and its three story clock tower draws visitors into town from the surrounding highways. In 1890, one of Texas’ most prolific courthouse architects W.C. Dodson designed the French Second Empire limestone building with ornamental sheet metal tower and cornice, emulating some of his recently constructed courthouses Lampasas, Parker and Hill. The facades are divided into an entry pavilion, two recessed bays and two end pavilions which was standard for Dodson’s courthouse designs.

After a tornado severely damaged the tower in 1968, Norma Crawford, the publisher of the Hood County News Tablet, led a grassroots effort to convince the Hood County Commissioners’ Court that the tower was worth saving. “It needed a lot of repair. There was talk of leveling the roof” but thankfully Crawford’s and the community’s efforts prevailed and the court repaired the beloved tower.  This rare act of 1960’s preservation sparked a renewed interest in historic Granbury and eventually developed into the strong preservation ethic of the community today. Saltarelli, Mary. Historic Hood County: An Illustrated History.

Construction History

After brief consideration of moving the county seat from Granbury to Thorp Spring, the 1890 commissioners’ court visited recently completed courthouses nearby and carefully reviewed proposals from architects before selecting W.C. Dodson to design the county’s current and fifth Hood County Courthouse for the square which was established in 1867and designed as the geographical center of Granbury. $34,500 in bonds were issued and approved to cover construction costs of the courthouse.

Historical Designations

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.  Designated a State Antiquities Landmarks in 1981and a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1970.

Interesting Facts: 

  • The upper band of ornamental painting in the District Courtroom simulates the design of the handrail coming up the main stair to the landing entry of the courtroom.
  • The Hood County Courthouse has five restored vault doors and two safes all original to the 1891 courthouse and all with extraordinary hand-painted designs decorating them.
  • There is a urinal on the landing of the stair that runs from the first floor to behind the judge’s bench separated only by a swinging shutter door. Presumably this was installed for use by the District Judge.
  • After a 1968 tornado badly damaged the courthouse clock tower, the Hood County Commissioners court initially proposed to remove the tower. In response, the Hood County News Tablet published mail-in coupons and encouraged readers to fill them out and submit them to the court showing their support for preserving the tower. The court was inundated with coupons and decided to repair the tower.
  • School children from all over the county donated coins that helped fund the repairs of the clock tower.
  • The preservation effort that resulted in saving the iconic three story clock tower led to the restoration of the rapidly deteriorating Granbury Opera House which was then followed by additional preservation projects in downtown Granbury.

Project Description

The restoration of the Hood County Courthouse created dramatic results on its interior. Dropped ceilings, partitions subdividing spaces and distracting steel columns installed in the District Courtroom to support the tower were all removed to open the building up to its original grandeur. All of the original interior finishes were restored including ornamental painting that covered the District Courtroom’s plaster walls from floor to ceiling. The unique shutter track system, removed from the building years before, was replicated to provide flexible window treatments for occupants. Extraordinary examples of ornamental hand painting on five vault doors and two safes was uncovered by removing years of over-paint and then protected by trained paint conservators. The 1890 Seth Thomas clockworks were restored by the county to original working order and the clock must be wound by hand as it was done in 1890.

On the exterior, some of the limestone was repointed and the paint on the cornice, window sashes and frames was restored to its original palette of red and cream. An ADA ramp was installed for access into the building and the county replaced perimeter sidewalks and sod.

The project architect was HDR Incorporated with ArchiTexas acting as the Preservation Consultant. Both firms are out of Dallas. The general contractor was JC Stoddard of San Antonio.

Innovations and Unique Discoveries:

  • The courthouse’s 1890 Seth Thomas clockworks and mechanisms were restored to its original working order including monthly hand-winding by the county maintenance staff.
  • Deep wells were drilled in the surrounding parking lot and courthouse lawn in order to harness the earth’s energy to efficiently power the building heating and cooling system.

State Grant Program Participation

Through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program administered by the Texas Historical Commission, Hood County received a Planning grant of $344,171 in 2001 (Round II) and a Full Restoration Construction Grant of $5,000,000 in 2008 (Round V).

County Preservation Leadership

Under former County Judge Linda Steen and the Hood County Commissioners Court, Hood County prepared a preservation master plan in the first year of the courthouse preservation program and received a Planning Grant in Round 2. And in 2007, under former County Judge Andy Rash, Hood County applied for and was awarded a Round 5 Construction Grant that contributed $4,793,916 to the project which was completed under current County Judge Darryl Cockerham in November 2011.

Rededication

A rededication ceremony was held on October 27, 2012.

Nearby Places of Historical Interest:

  • Acton Cemetery State Historic Site, Highway 167 (about .5 miles south of North intersection of FM 167 and FM 4), Acton. The grave of Mrs. Elizabeth P. Crockett, widow of the Alamo Hero David Crockett is located in this historic cemetery.
  • Barnard's Mill and Art Museum, www.barnardsmill.com
  • Hood County Museum
  • Granbury Opera House, www.granburytheatrecompany.org
  • Brazos Drive-In Theatre, www.thebrazos.com
  • Bridge Street History Center, www.bshc-granbury.org
  • Yeats-Duke 1858 Working Museum
  • Hood County Jail and Museum
  • Granbury State Historical Cemetery

There are over 10 RTHL cemeteries located throughout the county. See THC’s Historic Sites Atlas for info.

For more information about historic places and events in this region, visit the Texas Tropical Trail Region

For more information about lodging, restaurants and businesses to help your visit be enjoyable, visit the Granbury Chamber of Commerce.