The 1935 Guadalupe County Courthouse reopened for business in November 2016 following a $5 million renovation project, which was paid for with county reserve funds and came in under budget.
ThornGraves served as the renovation project architect, with the Koehler Company, a local business, as the general contractor.
The county courthouse was originally designed by L.W. Wirtz of Austin in an Art Deco style.
The interior of the courthouse had gone through a number of changes over the years from the original plan including the addition of walls, doors and an elevator.
The original detail to the hallways and grand courtroom, including the marble wainscot walls to the public corridors with three-step aluminum trim, the aluminum stair handrails, and the mahogany detailing were very much intact. Consequently, the overriding design intent throughout the renovation was to enhance the natural beauty and features of the building. For example, the terrazzo floors were buffed, and the wood paneling was stripped and stained.
The project also included improvements to the courthouse including state-of-the-art lighting, heating, cooling and an audio visual system that are easily controlled and adaptable. A new large flat screen was installed above the Commissioners Court bench in the courtroom so that the public is able to view the county proceedings from the gallery in comfort.
The ceilings were raised and coffered within the hallways, and sound-deadening pictures were placed on the walls to not only provide decoration, but also help with the sound attenuation when the halls are occupied. The re-organization and addition of new armless center benches to the hallways also allow for better pedestrian circulation and viewing of the artwork.
The ground floor and partial basement of the courthouse now house the information technology department including the addition of a raised computer floor.
The exterior of the building required extensive cleaning and repair to the cast stone wall panels as well as repointing to the masonry joints. The old exterior stone entry landings were carefully removed, the areas were waterproofed, and the original stone was reinstalled.
The exterior landscaping that had lost its original design intent was removed and replaced with sod and planting in the style of the 1930s with the regrading of the surrounding lawns and the removal, enlargement and replacement of the brick pavers to the adjacent Veterans Service Memorial.
Finally, new exterior lighting to the building provides a totally different aspect, as it can now be viewed at night in its full glory with the detail of the building entablature, a feature that was not possible in years gone by. Information provided by Lyndsay A. Thorn of ThornGraves Architects.