Not Hood County's First Courthouse
1867: The first courthouse was a 16 ft by 16 ft log cabin in the center of the public square.
Sometime between 1868-1870: A semi-rock structure on the Southeast corner of the Square measuring 25 ft by 40 ft was built.
1871: A two-story 50 ft by 50 ft rock courthouse is built on the site of the original. It had four rooms downstairs and a courthouse upstairs. The cost was $10,000. On March 5, 1875 it was destroyed by fire, leaving only the stone exterior walls.
1875: The county rebuilt the courthouse inside the leftover walls of the 1871 building, but it was not stable. A better solution was then sought.
History of the 1891 Courthouse
W. C. Dodson designed the Hood County Courthouse, which was built in 1890 to 1891. The three-story limestone structure, patterned after the popular French Second Empire style, possesses a basic composition that Dodson had previously used in the county courthouses of Lampasas (1883), Parker (1885), and Hill (1890).
Built of native limestone, the Hood County Courthouse underwent several phases of major repair, renovation and restoration in the past 50 years:
- During 1969-70 the clock tower was reinforced and tied to a steel platform constructed across the ceiling of the 2nd floor courtroom. It had been twisted by high winds during a storm.
- During 1997-98 the tower and roof were rehabilitated. Interior work included installation of the elevator, ADA accessible bathrooms and drinking fountains, electrical wiring, plumbing, HVAC, lay-in ceilings, removal of existing basement bathrooms, structural repairs to 2nd floor and attic/tower.
- In 2008 the Courthouse Restoration Grant was accepted in the Spring, and in the Fall of 2008 county offices moved out of the courthouse for the duration of the project. In 2009 demolition of non original structure and asbestos removal began. In February 2010 geothermal wells were drilled in the parking lot. Interior restoration proceeded through 2010 and 2011.
- In January 2012 county offices began returning to the Courthouse, and on October 27, 2012, the Rededication Ceremony was held.
The 2008-2012 Restoration
Anything added through the years to the original structure was removed from the building. This included carpets, drop ceilings, tile, shelving, closets, heating and a/c units, and bushes and shrubbery around the building.
All original woodwork, wooden flooring, doors and hinges were stripped of paint, cleaned and restored. Windows were restored to open and close. Wooden shutters were rebuilt and restored to windows. Vault doors on the Clerks offices were stripped of paint, and original decoration was restored by hand. The same was done for the safes in the County Judge’s and Treasurer’s office.
A geothermal heating and cooling system now serves the courthouse. Electrical, phone, and computer outlets are provided through floor receptacles. In the 2nd floor courtroom partition walls and drop ceilings were removed. The steel platform that stabilized the clock tower was removed and replaced.
Stenciling discovered during restoration was restored to the walls. The original urinal on the east stair is still in place (not in use), and the original Seth Thomas Tower Clock and McShane bell are still in use.
Text provided by the Hood County Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission.