AUSTIN, Texas —
Our commission and staff are in shock today as we consider the terrible damage caused to the landmark Mason County Courthouse in last night’s fire.
We offer our sincere condolences to Judge Jerry Bearden and his constituents across Mason County.
A courthouse is the heart of its community, a focus for celebrations, and a symbol of democracy. The loss of a courthouse to fire is one of the most heartbreaking things a community can experience.
We are grateful that at this point it appears no lives were lost.
It is a terrible irony that Mason County has experienced this tragedy. For more than a decade the county has worked toward the preservation of this precious building, and Judge Bearden has been a consistent and vocal advocate of the project. We recently awarded a grant of more than $4 million to the county for the building’s full restoration, and the dreams of many Mason County residents to see the courthouse returned to its original glory were about to come true.
We are gratified to hear of the Judge’s commitment to rebuild. This is not the first time a county has faced this challenge. In recent decades both Hill and Newton counties were able to successfully rebuild their courthouses after devastating fires. Overall, the THC has helped more than 70 Texas counties rebuild, restore, and preserve their courthouses, and we want to assure Mason County that we will do what we can to help them with this challenging project. It won’t be easy, but we know that together we can accomplish anything.
For now, we mourn the loss of a landmark. Hopefully that loss will be temporary, and one day we can celebrate its rebirth.
- Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the Texas Historical Commission