The world’s most famous Horny Toad lies in a tiny cushioned coffin on display at the entrance to the Eastland County Courthouse. According to news reports of the day, Ol’ Rip was entombed in the cornerstone time capsule of the 1897 courthouse. Thirty-one years later, as the old courthouse was being demolished for a new one, the time capsule was opened and Ol’ Rip awakened, much to the delight of 4,000 onlookers. He became a national sensation when he toured Washington, D. C. and St. Louis. Some say he inspired Warner Brother’s trademark Looney Tunes cartoon of a bullfrog in top hat and tails. His likeness was included in the decorative plaster cornice of the 1928 courthouse.
The Lady of Justice sculpture on top of the Presidio County Courthouse holds a scale which was shot out by a cowboy who claimed, “There is no justice in Presidio County”. The bullet holes remain there today.
Leon County Courthouse may be the only courthouse in Texas with a fireplace in the men’s restroom. Up to 2007, when the 1886 courthouse was restored, there were plenty of fireplaces (ten, in fact), but no restrooms. When the building was updated during its restoration, one of the original fireplaces ended up in the restroom as a reminder of simpler times, with fewer requirements for luxuries such as indoor water, central heat or electricity.
Legend states that one of the stone masons began carving the likeness of a local woman Mabel Frame in the sandstone column capitals of the Ellis County Courthouse. When she rejected the mason’s affections, he continued to carve her features but they grew progressively grotesque in an attempt to mock the woman who had spurned him.
The Cass County Courthouse, which dates back to 1861, is the state’s only antebellum style courthouse and the oldest documented, continuously functioning county courthouse in Texas.
The eight ornamental metal eagles that adorn the spectacular dome of the McLennan County Courthouse were originally designed with electric light bulbs in their eyes. Other sculptures include the Goddess Themis at top of lantern with Lady Justice and Lady Liberty on the lower roof.
More than one of our state’s most prominent historic courthouse architects has had arrest warrants issued on them, in attempt to compel them to attend to the construction oversight of their courthouses.
Some courthouses in Texas can trace a design lineage to Frank Lloyd Wright, through the hands of his former draftsmen Charles Erwin Barglebaugh and George Willis. Barglebaugh, working for the Dallas firm of Lang & Witchell, helped to design the Harris County Courthouse (1910), Cooke County Courthouse (1911), and the Johnson County Courthouse (1913) while Willis, working for the San Antonio firm of Atlee B. Ayres helped to design the Cameron County Courthouse (1912), Jim Wells County Courthouse (1912), and Kleberg County Courthouse (1914) – all of which exhibit Prairie Style and Sullivanesque influences.
In several cases, the land on which the courthouse rests was donated to the county on the express condition that the site forever remains the location of the county courthouse.
Since 1836, there have been at least 871 purpose-built courthouse buildings in the State of Texas.
In the middle of selective demolition at the Red River County Courthouse, the paint conservator discovered some beautiful hand painted gold lettering above the historic judge’s bench that said “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness”. The text was set within a decorative arched band and accompanied by colorful design elements.
The wings of the Harrison County Courthouse dome’s Lady Justice were removed and turned to point downward in the 1930’s due to wind loads that caused structural problems for the statue. The wings on Lady Justice have been restored to their original configuration with additional bracing inside the hollow metal statue.
Local builder C.S. Lambie & Company erected the 1932 eight-story Potter County Courthouse within 270 working days for a cost of $315,000 ($5.37 million in 2012 dollars).
The Potter County Courthouse has been the scene of numerous murder trials that captured widespread attention. The most notorious of these was the capital murder trial involving a famed Fort Worth millionaire accused of murdering his stepdaughter and a former TexanChristian University basketball star. The trial and events leading up to it became the subject of several books and was eventually scripted into a made-for-TV movie.
The unusual and subtle bas-relief terra cotta cactus, coyote, frontiersman, and Native American on the façade of the Potter County Courthouse depict the character and settlement of the Panhandle region.
The 1902 Newton County Courthouse and jail were built for $21,947. Clay for the brick courthouse was mined on nearby Caney Creek and molded and fired on the courthouse square.
On February 15, 1932, a bloody jail break took place on the Newton County Courthouse square. The county sheriff and a citizen coming to his aid were killed in gunfire trying to prevent the break. The jail breaker, who likely murdered his wife the night before, was killed by another citizen arriving on the scene.
The 1883 Second Empire Style Shackelford County Courthouse is constructed of stone fashioned by Scottish masons.
|Bernie||2011||Williamson||Georgetown||Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey|
|The Tree of Life||2011||Fayette||LaGrange||Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Jessica Chastain|
|True Grit||2010||Blanco||Blanco||Jeff Bridges, Hailee Steinfeld, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin|
|Waiting for Guffman||1997||Caldwell||Lockhart||Christopher Guest, Catherine O'Hara, Fred Willard, Eugene Levy, Parker Posey|
|Hope||1997||Grimes||Anderson||Jeffrey Sams, Lee Norris, Kevin Jamal Woods|
|Lone Star||1996||Maverick||Eagle Pass||Chris Cooper, Joe Morton, Matthew McConaughey|
|Michael||1996||Fayette||La Grange||John Travolta, William Hurt, Andie MacDowell|
|Powder||1995||Wharton||Wharton||Sean Patrick Flanery, Jeff Goldblum, Mary Steenburgen|
|Pointman||1994||Harris||Houston||Jack Scalie, Brent Jennings|
|What's Eating Gilbert Grape?||1993||Caldwell||Lockhart||Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, Juliette Lewis|
|Trial||1992||Brazoria||Angleton||Beverly D'Angelo, Ned Beatty|
|Habitation of Dragons||1992||Colorado||Columbus||Roberts Blossom, Brad Davis, Frederic Forrest, Jean Stapleton, Maureen O'Sullivan, Pat Hingle, Horton Foote (Screenplay)|
|Final Verdict||1991||Fort Bend||Richmond||Treat Williams, Olivia Burnette, Glenn Ford|
|The Legend of Billie Jean||1985||Kleberg||Kingsville||Helen Slater, Christian Slater, Peter Coyote, Dean Stockwell|
|D.O.A.||1988||Travis||Austin||Dennis Quaid, Meg Ryan, Daniel Stern, Jane Kaczmarek|
|The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez||1982||Gonzales||Gonzales||Edward James Olmos, James Gammon, Pepe Serna, Barry Corbin|
|Best Little Whorehouse in Texas||1982||Lavaca||Hallettsville||Dolly Parton, Burt Renolds|
|The Last Picture Show||1971||Archer||Archer City||Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepard, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn|
|Windsplitter||1971||Colorado||Columbus||James McMullen, I. Van Charles, Joyce Taylor|
|Baby, The Rain Must Fall||1965||Colorado||Columbus||Steve McQueen, Lee Remick|
|Boys' Ranch||1946||Oldham Co.||Tascosa||James Craig, Dorothy Patrick, Skippy Homeier|