Mark in Texas History: Marion County courthouse

Mark in Texas History: Marion County courthouse
The Marion County Courthouse is undergoing renovations. (Source: KLTV)

JEFFERSON, Texas (KLTV) - What’s old is just about new again, thanks to government-funded renovations. This week’s Mark in Texas History is about the Marion County Courthouse.

Architect Elmer Withers designed this standing Marion County Courthouse in 1912. Similar to his design for the Roberts County Courthouse, this building features Doric columns and a raised basement.

The Marion County Courthouse is undergoing renovations.
The Marion County Courthouse is undergoing renovations. (Source: KLTV)

The county has been seeking funds to renovate this building since 1999. It received its historical designation in 2002. Finally, in 2019, the Texas Historical Commission awarded a $4.7 million grant for renovations.

There are stories permeating the building, like in the courtroom where every judge taking the bench rests a hand in the same place as they walk by which has worn the woodwork.

Since photos back then were black and white, finding the correct old paint colors was no easy feat. The Texas Historical Commission sent an expert to help.

“They actually excise all the different layers and they cut some out and send it off to a lab and actually peel each layer back until they get to the original one”

Here in 2021, the courthouse is down to its finishing touches.

“I think we’re in month 18 or 19. The project called for 25 to 29 months completion.”

The Marion County Courthouse is undergoing renovations.
The Marion County Courthouse is undergoing renovations. (Source: KLTV)

That ‘70s paneling your grandma may still have was taken out, and the courtroom itself underwent big changes.

“The ceiling was low, so now you’ve got this beautiful domed, curved ceiling with all these different beautiful colors. And these were actually the original colors to every room. A lot of these colors were brought in by riverboat from New Orleans. That’s why they’re so different.”

And the project is coming in at about a million dollars under budget.

“The money that’s not allocated to this courthouse will be returned back to the Texas Historical Commission, and it will help another courthouse out.

If you want to see the nearly complete Marion County Courthouse, it’s located on the corner of Austin and Polk streets.

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