Traveling west out of Fort Worth, Weatherford is the first significant town you encounter. The town of Weatherford was established In 1858 .
The town square was laid out at the intersection of the two primary roads approaching town. Instead of the typical layout with streets passing by all four sides of the town square, Weatherford’s square is right in the middle of the roads as you approach from all four directions. When the courthouse was eventually built, is was visible from a great distance as you approached town. This layout makes for a dramatic presentation compared to the typical town square where you usually don’t see the courthouse until you pull up to one if the intersections on a corner of the courthouse square.
The town square gave way to the traffic on the roads passing around the courthouse years ago. Today there’s a lot of traffic, but also good parking outside the traffic loop. to investigate the courthouse and other stores around the old town square, park and walk.
The Parker County Courthouse was designed by architect W. C. Dodson. The style of the Weatherford courthouse is similar to Dodson’s other courthouses in Hill, Hood, and Lampasas counties. This building is a three story structure with forth story attic. A central clock tower extends up another three stories. Each of the four corners of the building is crowned with a convex mansard roof. The central clock tower repeats the pattern of the convex mansard roofs to produce a uniformity of style.
The elevation of this courthouse and the dramatic central position it holds on the town square further contributes to it’s overall grandeur. Certainly, it can be seen from a great distance away, as you approach town form any direction.
The courtroom of the Parker County Courthouse is among the biggest in the state at 4500 square feet. The ceiling is 28 feet high and heavily patterned and decorated. The pattern on the ceiling is carried through to the patterned flooring. The walls also are decoratively painted. Small wood balconies provide limited additional seating. Dark woodwork and shutters accentuate the very tall windows on the north and south walls of the courtroom. Beautiful reproduction of the original brass ceiling lamps hang from brass chains and help light this enormous space.
The courthouse was restoration to its original configuration in 2004. If you have the time and the building is open, walk through the Parker County Courthouse, because it is one of the great historic county courthouses in the state.
Besides the courthouse, other old architecture abounds. The Weatherford National Bank Building is across the street. When restoring the courthouse, they discovered a tunnel running to the bank. Robbers never got the chance to hold up the County Clerk making the evening deposit.
In the late 19th century stray cattle and horses were brought to the town square to sell. Around 1900 a Weatherford merchant offered some bargain merchandise for sale on what was then called a “Stray Day Sale,” and the idea caught on. The tradition of “First Monday” lives on to this day. The location of the sale has moved from the courthouse square to the public market a few blocks east of the courthouse. It’s more like a flea market these days, but they still show up on the first Monday of the month.
Chandor Gardens is only a few blocks away from the Square and a good side trip.
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Copyright © 2008 by Sam Fenstermacher
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