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Courthouse Restoration - Friends of the Courthouse

What Friends of the Courthouse Does

Friends of the Tyler County Courthouse is a group associated with the Tyler County Historical Commission. We are dedicated to restoring the Courthouse to its 1891 structure. Our group provides information, facilitates planning, and raises funds from corporations, grants, and private donors for the restoration project.

1891 Tyler County Courthouse. Painting by Doretta Gilchrist.

Why Restore the Courthouse?

  • It is the most historic structure in Tyler County. The building is over 120 years old. It has presided over a great deal of history and deserves to be properly cared-for.
  • It is cost-effective. The last major work was in the 1930′s. Maintenance costs for the county are high and will only get higher.  Approximately half of the renovation cost can be born by a state grant, with the other half coming mostly from private donations, and only a small proportion paid by the county government from current revenue.
  • The result will attract tourists. The original building was strikingly beautiful, and the restored building will add significantly to the other attractions of this area.
  • The restored courthouse will meet the county’s current and future needs. Up-to-date wiring, heat, and other amenities will help county government function more efficiently now, reduce future maintenance costs, and provide for many future years of service.
The Restored Courthouse

The Tyler County Courthouse was built in 1891. It is pictured above, and clearly, it looked quite different then. It was a red brick building with a steeply pitched roof and a clock tower which also housed a bell.

In the 1930′s the Works Progress Administration put men to work renovating the structure. Stucco was added to the outside of the brick. An exterior stair was added on the north side, a two-story addition was added on the south side, the clock tower was re-designed, and various interior rooms were changed.

The renovation will bring the building back to its 1891 form. The original windows are still in place, the original brick is still there under the stucco. It will be a smaller building, but the 1930′s addition on the south, which will be removed, is not in good condition. The interior rooms will also return to their original shapes and decor.

In addition, the building will have up-to-date wiring (including computer fiber), plumbing, heat and air. Bathrooms will be handicapped-accessible, and an elevator will still provide access to the upper floors. The work to be done is similar to that at other previously restored courthouses in Texas. Go have a look in San Augustine, Trinity, or Newton at the spectacular courthouses there. If they can do it, we can, too!

The building is already protected by a historical easement with the state of Texas. It cannot be demolished. We can use it in its present form and maintain it entirely with county funds, or tap into state grant funds to cover approximately half of the restoration cost and have a showplace which is not only up to date now, but an investment in the future of the county.

 
Cost and Funding

Most recent cost estimates indicate that a full restoration will cost at least $10 million. A state grant, if we qualify, could provide up to $5 million for the project. The goals of Friends of the Courthouse are:

  • to raise $1 million in order to demonstrate to the Texas Historical Commission that there is serious support for the project and increase the likelikhood that we will receive the state funding in the next round, and
  • to raise the rest of the funds required for completion of the project, probably another $5 million.

Tyler County government has already contributed significant funds to the project by restoring windows, repairing parts of the structure, and funding the initial architectural work for the restoration. Additional costs to the County will include providing temporary housing for offices during the restoration work and providing permanent housing for offices which will no longer have a place in the restored structure. These costs can be covered without additional taxation.

The county is spending money now to maintain an old structure. Renovation will greatly reduce future maintenance and operation costs.

Projected Timeline

Phase One: Preparing for the State Grant Application

  • Activities to maximize the chances that the county will receive a state grant. Specifically, fundraising to move architectural planning along as quickly as possible, and fundraising to indicate support for the project.

Phase Two: Submitting the Grant

Phase Three Projection: Getting the Grant

  • Completion of architectural planning work.
  • Beginning construction fundraising to provide money not covered by grant.

Phase Four Projection: Bids and Preparation for Construction

  • Bids are let. Final budget for project is set. Final fundraising goal set.
  • Courthouse occupants move to alternate locations.
  • Continued fundraising.

Phase Five: Construction

  • Fundraising with focus on grants and corporate donations to reach final goal.
Give Now 

Make a donation now to help us convince the state that Tyler County wants to give its 120+ year old courthouse a second life. Your donations will help show that support.

Your funds will be used to:

  • pay for architectural planning. The further we get with this work, the more likely we are to receive a state grant;
  • fund actual construction costs when that time comes;
  • demonstrate strong support for the project on the grant application.

The Tyler County Historical Commission is a 501(c)3 organization, and all donations are tax-deductible.

Checks should be made out to:

“Tyler County Courthouse Restoration/Preservation Project”

and sent to P.O. Box 777, Woodville, TX 75979

Or use your credit card below:

Tyler County Historical Commission
P.O. Box 777
Woodville, TX 75979

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