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Aging Texas Courthouses Added To “Endangered” List

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dozens of aging courthouses in Texas are being added to the list of American endangered historic places.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has added more than 70 of the state’s courthouses, as a single entry, on the list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

“Some of them are in really desperate condition with major structural issues and holes in the roof, and second floors that have been condemned because there’s no accessibility, and the floor joists are giving way and that type of thing,” explained Stanley Graves, the director of the Texas Historical Commission’s Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. “To some that just have very moderate deterioration and just need ya know some upgrades and some more minor work.”

According to the National Trust, Texas’ historic courthouses include some of the finest works of public architecture in Texas – and the nation.

Keep in mind while the buildings are historic, most of them are also still functioning.

“The great majority of these are still the primary county courthouse building, particularly in the smaller, rural areas of Texas, but even those in the more urban areas are still serving county functions,” Graves said.

Some of the North Texas Courthouses in need of repair include those in – Wise, Montague, Tarrant, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Rockwall and Van Zandt Counties.

Graves said, “All of these courthouses are in various states of disrepair and all have been trying to get funding from our office, through our Courthouse Preservation Program, and we’ve just not had enough money to reach down to all of these.”

Ultimately Graves said his hope is that the “Endangered” designation helps shine light on the aging historic buildings.

“This is mostly a publicity and awareness effort to bring some national attention to our courthouses in Texas,” he said. “We have more counties that any other state, therefore we have more historic courthouses than any other state.”

Most of the courthouses in Texas were constructed over a 100-year-period from the 1850s to the 1950s. The buildings include almost every architectural style, from Romanesque to Art Deco.

The National Trust also named Texas courthouses to its Most Endangered Historic Places list in 1998. The Texas Historic Courthouse Program was created the year after.

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