The following Texas statutes and instruments serve to protect and preserve county courthouses by allowing the Texas Historical Commission (THC) review authority over changes or alterations proposed by the counties.
All buildings that are serving or have served as the courthouse are protected under a statute entitled, “County Courthouses" as described in the Texas Government Code, Title 4, Chapter 442, Section 442.008. Rules for implementing this law are found in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Part 2, Chapter 17.2.
In addition, the following protections and historical designations, as applicable, have specific requirements for counties if they are initiating any work to the building beyond routine maintenance.
For questions or more information, please contact the courthouse reviewer for your county.
The program has been administered by THC under the rules established by a working group, adopted in 1999 and periodically updated.
Preservation Easements or deed restrictions are often granted by property owners to the THC in exchange for funding to perform repair or restoration work. The dates of execution and expiration indicated in the Current List of Protections chart above are for the easement(s) most recently in effect. Easements and deed restrictions contain provisions specific to the subject property and are filed locally by the county clerk.
State Antiquities Landmark (SAL)
Generally publicly-owned, buildings or sites are designated as State Antiquities Landmarks by the THC and receive legal protection under the Antiquities Code of Texas. Listing in the National Register is a prerequisite for State Antiquities Landmark designation of a building. The Antiquities Code was redefined as the Natural Resources Code, Title 9, Chapter 191. The rules of practice and procedure for obtaining and fulfilling the permit requirements for historic structures are found in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Chapter 26, Subchapter D: Historic Buildings and Structures.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks (RTHL)
These are Texas properties judged to be historically and architecturally significant. The properties must be at least 50 years old and are identified by an Official Texas Historical Marker. Texas Government Code, Title 4, Chapter 442, Section 442.006(f) and Texas Administrative Code, Title 13, Part 2, Chapter 21, Section 21.11 describe the requirements for review and note that properties designated under the state marker program are subject to these provisions.
National Register of Historic Places (NR)
This federal designation is administered by the THC in coordination with the National Park Service. Properties may be individually listed on the National Register and/or listed as a contributing resource in a National Register historic district. Determinations of eligibility for National Register listing can be conducted by the THC in connection with federally funded projects. Properties listed or determined eligible for listing are subject to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 if work that affects these properties is federally funded.
Preservation Master Plan
A Preservation Master Plan (PDF) is a valuable tool for understanding a historic property and knowing its needs. In order to participate in the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program and receive grant funding, the courthouse owner must prepare a preservation master plan that meets the criteria for program participation by following the Preservation Master Plan outline and receive approval from a Courthouse Program reviewer. Master plans should be periodically updated to reflect changes in the building’s use or condition or other significant changes such as in the proposed project cost.