Restoration four years in the making
COTULLA, Texas—The La Salle County Courthouse was rededicated on Jan. 26, following a four-year restoration made possible with more than $3.5 million in grant funds from the Texas Historical Commission (THC) through its award-winning Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.
Construction began on the project in 2009 to return the 1931 courthouse to its former glory. The building was designed by renowned Texas courthouse architect Henry Phelps, considered his last, most ambitious and imaginative courthouse design. The courthouse sits in the center and the highest point of Cotulla, facing a public square.
The four-story, concrete frame building is constructed of tan brick with terra cotta decorative elements, reflecting a transition from the more ornate Art Deco to the Moderne style favored in the 1930s. The gold-leaf spread eagle seen above each entrance is a national symbol, indicating freedom and strength. The project preserved many original historic features, such as the steel windows, terrazzo tile floors, and vault doors, while a new system of energy-efficient heat pumps located underground replace former window-mounted air conditioners. Cork and linoleum flooring matches the historic colors and patterns throughout the building. The gold and violet colors of the plaster walls and floors duplicate the original selections of the architect.
"Congratulations to La Salle County for their beautifully restored courthouse through the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program," said THC Chairman Matt Kreisle, who spoke at the event. "Recognition for this award-winning program has gone all the way to the White House, where it earned a Preserve America Presidential Award. The citizens of La Salle County should be very proud of their participation in this program, which helps preserve the real places of Texas."
Since 1999, nearly $247 million has been awarded to more than 80 counties for the preservation of their county courthouses, and the program has served as an important economic engine for Texas.
Courthouse restorations have generated more than 9,600 jobs throughout Texas, more than $22 million in state taxes, and an additional $21 million in local taxes. The 82nd Texas Legislature included $20 million in bond funding to continue future grant rounds of the program, and the THC will seek continued legislative support for future grant rounds.
"We're excited with the overwhelming response the program has received throughout Texas in communities large and small," said THC Architecture Division Director Sharon Fleming. "We have laid a strong foundation on which to build an even stronger program."
The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently announced a month-long campaign to celebrate Texas courthouses. Beginning in February, the National Trust, THC, and Preservation Texas invite the public to show their love for these iconic places through online photo and story sharing. More information on how to get involved is available at www.ilovetexascourthouses.org. In 2012, the National Trust listed Texas' historic courthouses to its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for the second time and has since named them a National Treasure, signifying their national significance and the Trust's ongoing commitment to their preservation.
The La Salle County Courthouse is a State Archeological Landmark, a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program was established in 1999 by Gov. George W. Bush and the Texas Legislature to restore Texas' county courthouses to their original splendor and make them safe, functional, and a source of pride for Texas communities. The THC created and administers the program.
For more information about the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, visit www.thc.state.tx.us, or contact the THC's Architecture Division at 512.463.6094.
DATE: January 26, 2013