Montgomery County’s 1936 Moderne-style courthouse, built of limestone, has been remodeled, renovated and expanded. Four courthouses preceded this current temple of justice.
The city of Montgomery, the county’s initial seat, was home to the first three courthouses.
County business was first conducted in a two-room log cabin built in 1838.
In 1842, the county built a two-story building of hand-hewn lumber.
A third courthouse was constructed in 1855, doubling as a community building fit for dances and other social events.
In 1889, Conroe became the capital, and a red brick courthouse was completed in 1891. According to “The Texas Courthouse Revisited,” the building’s outside was plastered in 1909.
The fifth and final courthouse was designed by Joseph Finger, Inc.
Montgomery County was organized in 1837 and named in honor of Richard Montgomery, an American Revolutionary War general. The county seat derives its name from Isaac Conroe, a lumberman who operated an area sawmill.
One of the earliest explorers of what would eventually become Montgomery County was likely the Frenchman Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, who probably came through the area in 1687.
The county eventually was carved from Washington County, with its original borders extending from the Brazos River on the west to the Trinity on the east, and from Old San Antonio Road on the north to the San Jacinto River on the south, according to The Handbook of Texas Online. This area would later encompass Grimes, Walker, San Jacinto, Madison and Waller counties. The current Montgomery County boundaries were drawn after Waller County was established in 1870.
Railroad construction ushered in Montgomery County’s lumber boom, with timber becoming the county’s largest source of income in the early 1880s. However, during the next 40 years, much of the county was deforested, paving the way for farming and livestock.
In the early 1930s, the discovery of oil lifted the county out of the Great Depression, and oil production was intensified during the World War II era. In fact, during this time, Conroe could claim – for a brief time – that it housed more millionaires per capita than any other town in the United States.
By the early 1990s, forestland had redeveloped, leading to a resurgence of the lumber industry. Lumber and oil production remain primary pillars of the local economy.
Urban sprawl from the Houston area has prompted a continual rise in population and an influx of visitors from Houston, drawn to the area’s recreational appeal. Lake Conroe, Lake Woodlands, and the Sam Houston National Forest are just a few of Montgomery County’s popular attractions.