Feature Photo (above): Mid-summer 2018 view of the west façade of the Fannin County Courthouse. The Lueders stone cladding (piles in foreground) was removed and the black mastic waterproofing material seen on the exterior had to be stripped prior to commencement of the Phase II restoration. Image: Google Streets.
by Adolfo Pesquera
Bonham (Fannin County) — Fannin County commissioners awarded the restoration project for the historic courthouse to Turner Construction Company under a construction manager agent agreement.
The commissioner’s court decision came the week before Christmas and sets in motion the final phase of construction. Prior to this, the courthouse underwent a lengthy partial demolition by Phoenix 1 Restoration and Construction Ltd. The partial demolition involved the removal of many modifications that were not part of the original 1888-1889 structure, the most obvious being the gray Lueders limestone exterior cladding. That project was completed over the summer.
The entire project was originally budgeted for $17.5 million. According to a report submitted to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation by Fannin County, the project is coming in closer to $14.5 million.
Schematic of the west elevation. Courtesy: Architexas.
This has been described as a 24-month project, which would take the estimated completion date into January 2021. Earlier estimates had the project finished by November 2020.
Fannin County voters approved a $12.5 million bond in 2016 to help pay for the restoration. State grant funds of $5.32 million were also procured through the Texas Historical Commission in 2016.
The three-story courthouse once had a central clock tower and mansard roof. Both were destroyed by fire on New Year’s Eve 1929. They were replaced with a flat roof. The restoration will reconstruction the tower and mansard roof and bring back the original rough-cut limestone exterior walls.
Dallas-based Architexas, a specialist in historic building restorations, is the project architect.
Archive photo of the original Fannin County Courthouse, prior to the 1929 fire.
The Fannin County Courthouse is one of dozens of courthouse building to have benefited over the years from the state’s Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. This year, the Round X grant cycle awarded grants totaling more than $19.7 million to 15 counties.
Falls, Hunt, Marion, and Menard counties received construction grants for full restorations.
Camp, Coleman, Goliad, Kimble, Limestone, Milam, and Orange counties received emergency grants to address critical issues including structural failures of beams and exterior cladding, and water intrusion through windows and basements.
Callahan, Polk, and Van Zandt counties were awarded planning grants to be applied toward the production of construction documents for a future application to the THCPP for a full restoration of their buildings.
Refugio County received a $450,000 emergency planning grant following major damage from Hurricane Harvey in 2017.
2018 Full Restoration Grant Recipients
Falls County—$5,832,430 grant award to fully restore the exterior and public interior spaces to their 1939 appearance, including the removal of existing window units, restoration of the building’s varied masonry, and the restoration of interior finishes, original hardware, and light fixtures. As with all full restoration projects, the building and its systems will be updated to comply with life safety codes and accessibility standards, including the removal of hazardous materials throughout the building. In addition, modern A/V and security systems will be carefully integrated into the historic framework of the building.
Lipscomb County—$2,937,006 grant award to fully restore the exterior and interior public spaces of the building to their original appearance and configuration including restoration of the brick and cast stone masonry exterior of the building. Continuing work begun with funding from a Round 9 grant award, the basement stair and entry will be restored. In addition, a nonhistoric wood frame outdoor entry enclosure will be removed, while a new second vestibule door and new accessible ramp will be added in its place.
Marion County—$4,682,610 grant award to fully restore the exterior and interior public spaces of the building to its original appearance and configuration, and to improve functionality by bringing the building into compliance with life safety code and accessibility standards, and updating the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. Regrading the site will improve drainage away from the building, and severely deteriorated masonry and cast stone elements will be repaired and repointed. The removal of dropped ceilings, wood paneling, and gypsum board will reveal original decorative finishes. The wood double-hung windows were restored with an earlier grant.
The Marion County Courthouse in Jefferson, Texas, built in 1912, is also undergoing a historic building restoration. Image: Google Streets.
Menard County—$1,205,303 grant award to finish-out and restore the 3rd and 4th floors, including mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, the installation of an elevator from the 2nd floor to the upper floors, the restoration of the 4th floor roof skylight above the original sheriff’s quarters, and vault door restoration. The 3rd and 4th floors are currently unoccupied and equal approximately 20 percent of the total building area.