Draft Master Plans Due Oct. 3
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) is now accepting applications for Round VII of its Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, which provides partial matching grants to Texas counties for the restoration of their historic county courthouses. The continuation of the program was made possible by $20 million in bond funding provided by the 82nd Texas Legislature.
To participate in the grant program, counties must submit a Master Preservation Plan for preserving and maintaining their historic county courthouse. Once submitted, this plan will be reviewed and may either be accepted, returned for resubmission with suggested changes, or rejected. The deadline for submitting draft master plans is Oct. 3, with revised versions due Nov. 4. The final deadline for completed applications is Dec. 1. Awards will be announced in January 2012. Applications are scored on a point system, with points given for different categories such as age, building condition, and a county's preservation commitment.
With more historic county courthouses than any other state, Texas has been instrumental in preserving remarkable structures designed by notable architects such as J. Riely Gordon and Alfred Giles. Since its inception, the program has awarded $227 million to counties throughout Texas. To date more than half of Texas’ 235 surviving historic county courthouses are participating in this matching grant program.
"With continued support from the Texas Legislature, to whom we are grateful, we remain committed to restoring all of the state's historic county courthouses," said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe. "These structures are symbols of pride and democracy and need our help to assure they continue to safeguard the real stories of Texas for future generations."
Then-Gov. George W. Bush and the Texas Legislature created the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program in 1999 with an initial appropriation of $50 million. The THC distributed $43 million in matching grants to 19 counties in Round I of the program in May 2000; an additional $7 million to 27 counties during Round II; $48 million to 25 counties during Round III; and $45 million to 28 counties in Round IV of the program.
In 2005, the Legislature did not allocate state funds for courthouse restorations but rather instructed the Texas Department of Transportation to set aside $80 million in federal money in the Transportation Enhancement Program for courthouses. Federal officials, however, did not approve the plan.
In January 2008 the THC announced Round V grant recipients, awarding matching grants totaling nearly $57 million to 19 Texas counties to help preserve their historic courthouses.
The 81st Texas Legislature approved the sale of $20 million in bonds for Round VI. A total of 44 applications were received in December 2009 requesting more than $172 million in state funding. In January 2010, 20 projects were selected to receive grants.
For more information, go to http://www.thc.state.tx.us/courthouses/chthcpp.shtml. H