Historical Courthouse

Presidio County Courthouse

Marfa, Texas

Built in 1887 in Second Empire architectual style by architect Alfred Giles and contractor James H. Britton.

In February 1886, the county contracted with James H. Britton to construct a courthouse for sixty thousand dollars on land provided by the county. Britton had been the contractor on the now demolished El Paso County Courthouse designed by Alfred Giles. The Marfa courthouse is similar in style and massing to its El Paso counterpart, but it is not as intricately detailed and lacks the ornate porches of the El Paso courthouse. Giles designed the Presidio County Courthouse in the Second Empire style with Italianate details. The exterior walls are constructed of locally manufactured brick. Originally, the brick of the courthouse was exposed, but it was stuccoed over in 1929 and painted a salmon color to resemble the original brick color. Pavilions capped by mansard roofs project from the corners of the rectangular structure. Dormers with triangular pediments and iron cresting pierce the roofs of these pavilions. The corner pavilions are further embellished by quoins. The north and south facades are distinguished by three triangular pediments symmetrical in composition, one of which emphasizes the entrance. The east and west facades have pediments above the entries only. These central entrances project forward and are also enhanced by quoins. The different forms of the five-part facades are unified by several features, including stringcourses that encircle the building at the window sill level of each floor and the decorative cornice that encircles the top of the building. The double hung windows are spanned by a combination of stone lintels and stilted segmental arches. A bracketed metal cornice surrounds the base of the roof. The roofs of the dome and pavilions are covered in diamond shaped metal shingles and are currently painted black. The remainder of the roof is constructed of standing seam metal sheets. The dome rises from the center of the building and forms a focal point for the surrounding area; it is capped by a statue of the Goddess of Justice perched on a broad pedestal. The goddess originally held both a sword and scales. Local legend suggests that a citizen, unhappy with the balance of justice, shot off the scales from the statue. Roman arches span the double hung openings of the octagonal tower that supports the dome. Like many Texas courthouses, the interior of the building is divided into quadrants by the intersecting corridors connecting the four entrances of the building. Located in these quadrants are the offices of the county tax collector, justice of the peace, county judge and county clerk. A circular rotunda is created at the intersection of the corridors. The district courtroom is located on the second floor east of the rotunda, and it occupies the entire top two floors of the east section. Offices are located on the west end of the second and third floors. The interior retains most of its original design and finishes such as the wood doors and wainscoting.

1922: Marfa Electric & Ice Co. installed electric lights in the courthouse.1924: Iron fence removed and concrete walks constructed.1925: Coal house built to the north side of the courthouse.1929: Exterior stucco applied, painted a salmon color.1930: Light fixtures (unknown) purchased from Marfa National Bank.1966: Exterior painted light sand color.1985: Roof replacement, painting, elevator installation, electrical upgrade, insulation.

Current status: Active Courthouse