February is I Love Texas Courthouses month! This is the third year of highlighting Texas courthouses by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Preservation Texas and the Texas Historical Commission.
History lovers are encouraged to visit the website to sign the courthouse love letter, upload a photo of your favorite courthouse and share a story.
Texas has more historic courthouses than any other state, which is probably because it has more counties than any other state. Currently, 235 courthouses over 50 years old are still in active use. Eighty were built in the 19th century. The National Register of Historic Places has listed 139 of the Texas courthouses.
The aging buildings are in trouble. Last year, Texas courthouses were included on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The first time Texas made the list, which was in 1998, then-Gov. George W. Bush and the Texas Legislature passed a law establishing the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. Since then, 83 courthouses have been rehabilitated. According to the program, at least 75 more are in need of help.
Also in 2012, the National Trust declared all threatened historic places National Treasures to highlight their plight.
The Llano County Courthouse used restoration funds to refurbish its tower in 2002. Located at 801 Ford St. in Llano, the building is one of the few remaining Texas courthouses built before 1900. It is constructed of Texas red sandstone, marble and granite. A.O. Watson and Jacob Larmour designed the building during the “Golden Age” of Texas courthouse design in the Romanesque Rival style.
The courthouse was rededicated on June 15, 2002 the tower was restored to its original 1892 appearance. It has been modified in 1913. Interiors of the courtrooms were also renovated.
The current courthouse is the fourth to serve the county. The original courthouse was a box-like structure built in 1859. A fire in 1880 destroyed it and all the county records. A temporary courthouse was built the same year for $1,550 while a permanent structure was under construction. The temporary courthouse had only two rooms, one of which contained a fireproof vault.
Fire claimed the “permanent” structure, which served from 1885-1892. Court records were saved this time.
The current courthouse was completed in 1893 at a cost of $47,000. Beautifully nestled among the trees in the heart of the town square, the courthouse is still the center of county justice. Check out its website for a list of county offices, public notices and job opportunities.