According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Granbury town square is one of the most complete 19th century courthouse squares in Texas. The W. C. Dodson designed Second Empire style courthouse and the surrounding late19th century commercial buildings provide a certain architectural unity to the town square. Hood County and Granbury are popular Texas tourist destinations. Enjoy the images below and read my short history of the town and courthouse. Larger versions of the images below can be seen by simply clicking.
Hood County was formed in November 1866 by an act of the Texas Legislature. The county was named after Lt. Gen. John Bell Hood of the Confederate Army. The county seat of Hood County was named in honor of Confederate general Hiram Bronson Granbury. The town of Granbury was established on land donated by influential county residents Thomas Lambert and J. F. and J. Nutt. The donated land was not at the center of the county, as was specified by the law, and this caused a great controversy. Eventually residents of the southern portion of Hood County petitioned the legislature to created a new county, and as a result in 1875 Somervell County was established from about 200 square miles of land previously part of Hood County.
The Granbury Town Square
According to the National Register of Historic Places, the Granbury town square is one of the most complete nineteenth century courthouse squares in Texas. The W. C. Dodson designed Second Empire style courthouse and the surrounding late 19th century commercial buildings provide a certain architectural unity to the town square. A few structures on the square were built in the early 20th century, but they generally conform to the architectural norm of the rest of the town square. The Granbury town square is significant enough to merit a National Register designation as the Hood County Courthouse Historic District.
The county courthouse was constructed in 1890-91 from a design provided by Waco architect W. C. Dodson. The three-story limestone structure reflects the then popular French Second Empire architectural style. The Hood County Courthouse is very similar to other courthouses built by Dodson in the 1880′s. The county courthouses of Lampasas, Parker, and Hill counties all share a common and progressively refined architectural theme. All four of these buildings feature a second-story district courtroom with two story high ceiling and wood framed clock tower with ornate tin trim. Except for the courthouse at Lampasas, which was the earliest constructed of the four, they also feature a mansard-roof treatment.
The Hood County Courthouse is a fairly spartan building compared to the other three structures previously mentioned. A clock tower was not originally planned for the courthouse and was added after construction had started. The courthouse is constructed of limestone and the use of ornate stone carving is limited. Unlike most Texas county courthouses of this era, the building has only three entrances on the first floor. In spite of the fact that the north side of the town square has some of the most prominent buildings, there’s no north entrance to the courthouse.
The exterior of the Hood County Courthouse was restored in 2000, and it makes a grand center piece for what is an absolutely wonderful old town square. The interior of the courthouse still reflects alterations made years ago to better utilize available interior space. The large district courtroom has been divided into multiple courts. Hood County still makes extensive use of this public building for county business. Someday when the county has constructed alternative office space, the interior of this grand old courthouse may be restored to match the exterior.
100 E Pearl St
Texas Historical Commission, Texas Historic Sites Atlas. http://atlas.thc.state.tx.us/, 2009.
Copyright © 2009 by Sam Fenstermacher
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