Northeast Texas Day 1

When I get home from a courthouse trip, the first thing to do, besides coloring in my map, is to download my pictures on to my computer. That way, I’ll have them all in one place and can easily edit/select which I’ll use on this website.

I’ve had to learn to be responsible with these photos. Back in the first year of this project, Fall 2010-Fall 2011, I was not so careful. Like I’ve said many times, I didn’t have the interest in courthouses that I do now. Not even then did I really think I would get as far as I have. During the first few trips, my picture was taken with a small red camera, the brand and model of which I’ve forgotten. All these photos were uploaded to my grandfather’s computer so we could have them in one spot.

Things started getting complicated around my thirty-sixth courthouse (Travis County, Austin). On the trip I went to Austin, along with San Antonio, Johnson City, Burnet, and Belton, I did not travel with my grandfather, rather with my parents. We didn’t use the same red camera, and the pictures were put somewhere else when we get home.

Last summer, I got the notion to find every picture and group them all together. As I tried going through both my grandfather’s computer and my computer at home, I had some difficulty gathering all the photos I needed. Some I just couldn’t find. Eventually, I was able to recover those from the Austin-San Antonio trip (which I was worried I had lost), but the bad news was, I was missing a different trip.

Blanco County

The Blanco County courthouse in Johnson City (which I was able to recover)

In the summer of 2011, either in late June or early July (I can’t remember the exact dates, because I lost the pictures) I took a trip to seven counties in extreme northeast Texas. We did the trip in one day (a long day), and I was able to add Franklin, Titus, Camp, Morris, Cass, Bowie, and Red River Counties to my collection. On an earlier version of my courthouse map, predating the one displayed on this site, I included these counties as completed.

The truth was, the really weren’t. These seven counties weren’t even redos by redo standards. They were imperative to return to, because somehow I had lost their pictures. Since the moment I discovered they were no longer around, I realized that we’d have to return to this region of Texas. So as the plans went into the works to return here, I tacked on a few completely new counties to travel to. That is the basis of my latest trip.

To start things off, we spent an hour and a half or so navigating the morning traffic of the DFW Metroplex to drive up to Collin County (#29). Collin County and eight other counties made up one of my very first trips, and subsequently all ended up on the redo list. In December 2013, I revisited three of these nine, which left six that required me to stop by them again. Most of these counties border the Red River, and so naturally, if we followed the river’s course to the east, we’d get to northeast Texas in no time. By doing this, I was able to knock out another large chunk of revisits.

When I first visited Collin County, the only courthouse I took my picture in front of was the large, twenty-first century building that now serves as the courts building. It’s a dominating structure on the north side of town, to the west of the Interstate. Last time I was in McKinney, I didn’t know about the historic courthouse, still located on the downtown square.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.39.28 PMRestored in 2006, this building now serves as the McKinney Performing Arts Center.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.18.01 AMBecause its purpose as a courthouse no longer exists, its Monday to Friday hours are also absolved. Even though it was Sunday, I was able to go inside. Of course, things have changed since its days as the court building for Collin County, but I was able to get the general idea.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.18.42 AMThe courtroom was also a stop on my tour of the building. Understandably, the second floor courtroom has been converted into an auditorium. When I arrived, a few workers were preparing for the church service that takes place there on Sunday mornings.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.39.58 PMI can’t believe I ever missed this courthouse. Thankfully, I’ve righted my wrong and checked Collin County off the redo list. That didn’t mean, however, that I wouldn’t want to travel back over to the current courthouse for a few more pictures as well.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.41.48 PMOur next stop was in Denton, originally the first courthouse I got on the (#21-#29 trip). It was designed by Wesley Clark Dodson, but could be roped in with Coryell County‘s building as “unique” works of Dodson. The two don’t follow his general pattern of courthouse design. Soaring over downtown Denton, this building is definitely reminiscent of a castle.

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On the courthouse square, it’s even more impressive.

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Like Collin County’s historic courthouse, this building no longer functions as a court building, rather a museum to Denton County history (just like Dallas County with Dallas County history). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go inside due to a private event taking place at the time of my visit. Maybe next time, if I ever get back up to Denton…

Across the street from the courthouse, I ran into this sign.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.29.43 AMI definitely could use this!

A county to the north, and we were near the Red River. Cooke County (#22), has an impressive courthouse that was under renovation when I first arrived in January 2011. Today, it really looks good. Out of every single courthouse I saw on this day, this by far was in the best shape.

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The architects were Lang & Witchell, the same men that designed the 1913 Johnson County courthouse in Cleburne. Aside from the tower design, materials, and colors, this courthouse resembles Cleburne’s highly. While at the Cooke County courthouse, I remembered a certain angle of picture I had taken at its sister building, and I repeated it here. The first picture is of the Johnson County courthouse and the second is of the Cooke County courthouse.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.57.43 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.59.00 AMBoth have the same basic design to them, the materials are simply different and one has a tree planted while the other does not. I was intrigued by this. Now I’m no architect, and the actual logistics of these designs may not match up and I’d be wrong, but who knows? At least to the naked eye of someone who has been to many Texas courthouses, I think I’m safe to say that I’d be halfway right about this one.

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We drove east next, to Grayson County. The two fairly large cities of Sherman and Denison stand only a few miles apart near the Red River here. This is an area of great historical importance. Denison was the birthplace of America’s thirty-fourth president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. He, and Lyndon B. Johnson (born near Johnson City), are the only two presidents to have been born in Texas. Sherman is also important historically, at least in the country music world. Famed pioneer of the “Bakersfield Sound”, Buck Owens was born here.

The courthouse is not as historically significant. Where an impressive towering structure once stood, now exists a 1936 Moderne building by Voelcker & Dixon.

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Some Moderne buildings, especially those by this particular architectural pair, impress me. However, I just am not a fan here. It would appear to me that many of the locals feel the same way.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.16.07 AMThis was one of two trashcans that looked like this.

We had lunch in Sherman at a restaurant on the square cleverly named “Fulbelli’s”.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.19.28 AMIt was located on the second floor of a indoor plaza-like building called “Kelly Square”. There, I found a historic photo of what the Grayson County courthouse used to look like. It sure beats what’s there now.

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The town of Bonham in Fannin County, to the east, also has a famous native son. That would be Sam Rayburn, the longest-serving Speaker of the House in United States history. Driving into Bonham on Highway 56 from Sherman, one passes right by Speaker Rayburn’s historic home, now a museum.

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Also, in town, is the Sam Rayburn library, a collection of many of his books.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.48.22 PM The courthouse in Fannin County is a peculiarity. Originally, the northernmost design of Wesley Dodson (and his partner, Dudley), this building lost its tower and mansard roof to fire on New Year’s Eve 1929. To salvage the building, the courthouse was given a flat roof. In 1965, the entire structure was “modernized” by Fred Buford & Associates of Dallas. Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.48.37 PM

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On one corner of the courthouse lawn is a statue honoring town namesake, James Bonham, a famous defender at the Alamo. Historically, Bonham was the man who requested aid from Colonel James Fannin, the namesake of the county. That aid never came.

To the east of Bonham is the “Paris of the West”…literally. The seat of Lamar County, Paris, is one of the most recognizable cities in Texas. The butt of many jokes, Paris, Texas remains to this day a popular tourist destination in northeast Texas. I can remember first visiting Paris and pulling in to the downtown square to find no courthouse. In fact, the Lamar County courthouse is located just a block north of the square.

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Not so long ago, I discovered a picture I took of the Paris Bakery, across the street from the courthouse, while I was in Paris in January 2011. It was a rarity that I took a picture of anything other the courthouse in this days. I got the notion while there again to try and duplicate the same picture. Here they are together. I’m sure you can tell which one was taken in winter and which was taken in summer.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.54.35 AMScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 10.53.19 AM

They’re not exactly the same, but close enough.

While in Paris, I wanted to take some pictures of the downtown square. Where an older courthouse once stood, now is a fountain and public park. It’s very nice.

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Lamar County was the final redo of the trip, which means I have now completed every redo from #1-#30, just like I said I would in the Redo #5,6,8,9 blog post. This leaves at least seven more redos this summer, and potentially more.

Now begins the string of fourteen new courthouses. As we crossed the Lamar-Red River County line, we entered the region of the courthouses I had lost. I came to the Red River County seat, Clarksville, late in the day back on the original trip up here, and now I returned around the same time. The design there is still very impressive.

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It was designed by William H. Wilson who in part designed the Clay County courthouse in Henrietta. The tower belonging to the Henrietta building has since been removed and replaced with a dome, but I understand it resembled the one in Clarksville to some extent.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.55.28 PMLike Lamar County’s courthouse, this one also sits north of the square.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.56.28 PMIn lieu of a fountain, Clarksville’s public square boasts a veterans’ memorial.

As the day was drawing to a close, we continued the drive east, getting closer and closer to Texas’s eastern border with Arkansas. Bowie County, the northeastern most county in Texas was our night’s stop. The large city of Texarkana is within this county, split between Texas and Arkansas. It’s not the county seat, though.

That title belongs to New Boston, a small city in central Bowie County, just off of I-30. New Boston has a small downtown area, but most of the city’s “grandeur” is situated around the Interstate, consisting of several fast food restaurants, hotel chains, a Walmart, and a very unimpressive modern courthouse.

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 8.56.56 PMThe Bowie County courthouse is one of my least favorites.

Of course, it’s statue of Jim Bowie, the famous knife fighter and defender of the Alamo, was nice.

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Driving downtown and finding no restaurant alternative, we were limited to fast food for dinner. After a quick stop at Dairy Queen, we checked in to the Holiday Express in New Boston, ending Day 1.

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