The restoration of the San Saba County Courthouse is the result of a 20-year effort with continuous commitment from county leaders and the community, and the assistance of the Texas Historical Commission through two emergency grants and a final construction grant totaling over $5.2 million under the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.
The process began with preparation of a master plan in 1999, followed by several piecemeal emergency projects to stabilize the roofs and chimneys, replace the electrical service, and repair the interior and exterior stairs. In 2017, the county was finally able to undertake full restoration of the courthouse. ARCHITEXAS was hired by the county to complete the construction documents and provide construction administration services for emergency grant work and for the full restoration project.
The San Saba County Courthouse has functioned as the county’s official courthouse since its completion in 1911. The county capitol was designed by the architectural firm of Chamberland and Company of Birmingham, Alabama, and Forth Worth, and constructed by the Falls City Construction Company of Louisville, Kentucky. The courthouse was designed in the Classical Revival style exhibited by its rusticated base, two-story grand columns with Ionic capitals, arched pediments over the main entry doors, and the domed clock tower. The concrete structure is faced with locally quarried San Saba sandstone at its base, and features a pressed red brick body and sheet metal clad cornices, parapets, and tower.
Construction for the restoration project was divided into two phases: selective demolition, and interior and exterior restoration. Phoenix 1 Restoration and Construction Ltd. completed the Phase 1 work, and JC Stoddard Construction completed the Phase 2 full restoration project.
Highlights of the exterior restoration work include: replacement of the sheet metal roofing at the dome with similar material finished to match the historic dark green paint color; reconstruction of missing decorative sheet metal urns with ones fabricated of cast aluminum topping the parapets and tower rooflines; reconstruction of the decorative sheet metal clad railing and parapet with its distinctive union jack pattern; reconstruction of the sheet metal Ionic capitals with glass fiber-reinforced stone; replacement of the upper story aluminum windows with reconstructed wood windows; replacement of the aluminum storefront doors with reconstructed wood door assemblies matching the historic originals; restoration of the clockworks and bell, which now rings on the hour; and painting of sheet metal, cement parging, and window and door assemblies to match the historic paint scheme.
Highlights of the interior restoration work include: removal of suspended ceilings to expose the decorative pressed metal ceiling in the district courtroom and the plaster ceilings throughout; installation of sensitively integrated and efficient MEP systems throughout; new ADA restrooms; and paint, stain, clear, and decorative finishes to match the striking and vibrant yellow, blue, and green historic paint scheme.
The community celebrated its restored courthouse in a rededication ceremony on March 5, 2020.
Information provided by ARCHITEXAS – Architecture, Planning, and Historic Preservation Inc.