GOLDTHWAITE - The rededication of the Mills County Courthouse on Saturday, Aug. 27, celebrates the building's restoration made possible in part through grant monies from the Texas Historical Commission's (THC) Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.
The 1913 Mills County Courthouse was designed by noted San Antonio architect Henry T. Phelps in a Classical Revival style. The stately brick, stone, and copper entryways are framed by massive Ionic cast stone columns. The building features unique interior plaster techniques, some of which imitate marble using age-old Italian craftsmanship. In a basement room, early advertisements for banks, bail bonds and barbers were uncovered and preserved on the walls. The courthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and is a State Archeological Landmark and a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
"Our historic county courthouses are important symbols of civic pride," said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe. "When restored, they become economic engines for revitalization in historic downtowns. They attract heritage travelers from near and far, helping visitors better understand the real stories of Texas history."
The THC's Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program was announced in June 1999 and provides partial matching grants to Texas counties for the restoration of their historic county courthouses. Since its inception, the program has awarded $227 million to counties, and local governments have matched this with more than $150 million. As a participant in the program, the Mills County Courthouse received nearly $5 million in grant money from the THC in 2008.
Courthouse restorations have generated more than 8,579 jobs throughout Texas and more than $19 million in local taxes. The recently adjourned 82nd Texas Legislature included $20 million in bond funding to continue future grant rounds of the program.
The Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program's accomplishments have garnered national and international attention, with honors from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Association for Preservation Technology, and the Texas Society of Architects. In 2008, the program was recognized with a Presidential Award from the White House. The successful program has also partnered with the Texas Land Title Association for the past five years to offer a series of stewardship workshops that provide training to ensure the restored structures are maintained, preserved, and do not fall back into disrepair.
For more information regarding the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, contact the THC's Architecture Division at (512) 463-6094 or visit www.thc.state.tx.us.