The Zavala County Courthouse was completed in 1970 in a Modern style. The steel and concrete structure was financed by a $350,000 bond issue approved by voters in 1968.
Zavala County was created in 1858 from Maverick and Uvalde counties and named for Lorenzo de Zavala, a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto.
The inaugural temple of justice was constructed in 1888 in the county seat of Batesville. Fashioned of burnt bricks made from Leona River soil, the two-story county capitol housed offices on the first floor and an upstairs courtroom. The building was home to county government until 1928, at which time the county seat was moved to Crystal City.
Like most cities, the county seat was founded when the railroad arrived, which meant a market for produce. While onions were the first crop introduced in Zavala County, spinach soon became No. 1, and the city was deemed “Spinach Capital of the World.” In fact, Crystal City produces 80 percent of the spinach grown in the United States.
Zavala County’s First Annual Spinach Festival took place in 1936. While festivities were suspended during wartime, the celebration resumed in 1982 and continues every year during the first week of November. A statue of Popeye was erected with the blessing of the artist/creator in 1937. The pipe-smoking sailor stands guard in front of city hall to this day.
The county’s historical markers include Camp Nueces, C.S.A, founded in April 1862 near this site to guard vital traffic as it crossed the Nueces on the San Antonio Eagle Pass Road. Another marker details the Bosque-Larios Expedition where some 1,172 Indians gathered to hear Fray Larios chant Mass. Larios later baptized 55 infants and instructed the adult Indians so that they might be baptized at a future time. The celebration at the Nueces on May 16, 1675, and the missionary activity that began on that day eventually brought about the founding of the Texas mission system.
Finally, the public is invited to drop by the courthouse to view an extensive display of arrowheads, with specially encased exhibits in the county judge’s office and the commissioners court courtroom.