La Salle County was created in 1858 and organized in 1880 with La Salle as the county seat. Both the county and capitol were named for the famous French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle who died in Texas.
Unique points of interest in La Salle County include the Welhausen School in the county seat of Cotulla where Lyndon B. Johnson taught in 1927. When he became president and signed the Higher Education Act in 1965, Johnson referred to his time in La Salle County with the following: “I shall never forget the faces of the boys and the girls…and I remember even yet the pain of realizing and knowing then that college was closed to practically every one of those children because they were too poor. And I think it was then that I made up my mind that this nation could never rest while the door to knowledge remained closed to any American.”
The county also is known as home to the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area (CWMA or Chap), established to serve as a research and demonstration area for the Rio Grande Plains ecological area.
Area history is chronicled in the Brush Country Museum, which is sponsored by the La Salle County Historical Commission. The museum had its beginnings in a one-room school house donated by the Cotulla Independent School District and has since been renovated and relocated.
The community turns out in full force for the annual LaSalle County Wild Hog Cook-Off and Fair, conducted the second weekend of March. Special activities include parades, crafts, food show contest, carnival and livestock show. Of course, cooks come from far and wide to showcase their special recipes in the wild hog cook-off! For a recap and photos from the 2013 Wild Hog Cook-Off and Fair, go to https://www.facebook.com/WildHog
The La Salle County Courthouse was constructed in 1931 as the county’s fourth temple of justice. Two previous courthouses were burned by arson, and the third courthouse was demolished because of severe structural problems.
The courthouse restoration project continued over a 14-year period in multiple phases with the initial master plan launched in May 1999. The construction documents phase was completed in July of 2005, and funding was awarded in two rounds of the Texas Historical Commission Texas Historical Courthouse Preservation Program. The total construction cost for Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the restoration project was $8.765 million.
Killis Almond Architects, P.C., served as architect, while Curt Stoddard of JC Stoddard Construction Co. was project manager.
Phase 1 consisted of the exterior restoration of the brick and terra cotta façade with 22 carat gold leafing, new roofing, restoration of steel windows, replacement of glass with energy efficient glazing, installation of over 100 geothermal wells 400 feet deep, and the interior demolition and removal of environmental hazards. Phase 2 of the project included the full restoration of the interior including the installation of geothermal heat pump systems throughout the courthouse, all new electrical and plumbing, and the restoration of interior spaces to reflect their original materials and appearance.
The existing elevator was removed from the courthouse, and a larger, ADA-accessible elevator was added along with smoke and fire detection, new security system, a fire sprinkler system, and all new distribution of electrical and computer connections. The major spaces in the building were fully restored.
The district court on the second floor was returned to its full two-story height, and all of the interior wood trim and oak pews were refinished to their original appearance. A new, highly detailed cork floor was installed to duplicate the historic pattern in this courtroom along with modern audio/visual upgrades and wireless projection system for court presentations. The fourth floor jail was completely rehabilitated for the new Department of Public Safety trooper offices with one section of the old jail retained for historic tours by the public.
The fully restored courthouse was reoccupied in March 2013. H
– By Killis Almond, FAIA, Killis Almond Architects, P.C.