Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Presiding Over Lockhart

We continued our walk around downtown Lockhart, TX (see yesterday's entry) by focusing on the center square.

A divided street with parking on both sides and in the middle of the two lanes surrounds the block, and with virtually all the parking spots filled--many with trucks of varying lengths--navigating the four streets of the square in our 23-foot "dually" was an adventure.

At the center of the town's square is the Caldwell County Courthouse, often called the most photo-graphed courthouse in Texas, including being featured on the cover of The Texas Courthouse by Welch and Nance.

The building is a beautiful structure, and with the flags billowing on the day of our walk around the square, the entire scene was pretty awesome.

This structure, the third building to call itself the county courthouse, was built in 1894 (the first was built on this site in 1848). Built with Muldoon blue sandstone and Pecos Red sandstone trim, it is one of the oldest in Texas.

The story goes that "when it went up more than one hundred years ago people complained that the price was too high. They also complained that there wasn't any running water and, thus, no modern bathrooms. So the county judge ordered some of the closets be converted into rest rooms. That solved the problem, but then the water bills started coming in. They were astronomical for the time. So the county decided to lock the extra bathrooms, and people would just have to suffer" (

Completely restored between 1990 and 2000, the Caldwell County Courthouse was rededicated in April 2000. The building looked magnificent from ground level, and the details shown in the next three photos clearly show this magnificence.

The 1893 Seth Thomas Grandfather Time stopped working in 1993 and was replaced by an almost identical, but twenty years younger, salvaged clock.

The architectural details are striking, and these close-ups reveal the beauty of the combination of colors, shapes, and angles.

The Courthouse is just one reason for the selection of Lockhart as a setting for motion pictures, e.g., "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" (1993), "Waiting for Guffman" (1996), and the TV movie, "To Live Again" (1998).

One block from the Courthouse is the Caldwell County Museum, built in 1908-09 to serve as the Caldwell County Jail. This represents a rare example of the Norman castellated style of architec-ture. Located on the site of the county's first log jail (1855-1858), the upper floors of this five-story red brick structure contain fifteen cells. Gallows are said to have been removed from this jail in the 1930s.

In more than one way, the Courthouse is the center of Lockhart life.

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