After a fire destroyed the 1882 courthouse, Johnson County contracted with the Dallas architecture firm of Lang and Witchell to design a modern, fireproof building as the new seat of county government. The resulting design was inspired by two of the most prominent architects of the day. Designed in the Prairie Style originated by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building features delicate detailing popularized by Wright’s mentor, Louis Sullivan.
Completed in 1913, the Johnson County Courthouse is one of the state’s finest historic landmarks. Among the building’s most notable features is its highly ornamented and stunning atrium.
Johnson County Judge Roger Harmon chaired the Johnson County Courthouse Centennial Committee, tasked with planning a day-long birthday party to honor the county’s beautiful temple of justice.
A celebratory highlight was the retrieval and opening of a time capsule placed in the courthouse cornerstone in 1913. The capsule coffer box was opened and left on display inside a Plexiglas box in the courthouse during the day of the celebration, and was later taken to Layland Museum where a curator opened the box and removed the fragile contents in a carefully controlled environment to protect them from further damage. Items included a Bible, coins, lists of county officials and Cleburne High School seniors from the 1912-13 school year, an annual statement from the Cleburne YMCA, a Confederate dollar bill, and a silver spoon from Cleburne’s American Cafe. The time capsule contents have since been returned to the Johnson County Historical Commission Museum in the courthouse.
The Centennial Celebration featured a variety of vendors, demonstrators and exhibitors in attire from 1913, most offering crafts and items that would have been found in Johnson County at the time the courthouse was built. The county’s oldest residents, oldest churches, oldest businesses, and oldest family farms were recognized in a special ceremony, attended by local, state and federal elected officials. The Texas Historical Commission historical landmark marker for the courthouse was rededicated, as was the Confederate monument that stands on the southeast corner of the courthouse square.
For additional information, go to http://www.cleburnetimesreview.com/local/x296452911/Johnson-County-Courthouse-Centennial-Celebration-Commemorative-Edition.
The Cleburne Times-Review contributed information to this article.