This was our thirty-second Courthouse in Texas to visit. That means we are at 12.6% of our goal with 87.4% left to go.
The current 1911 Cooke County courthouse replaced the 1878 courthouse which burned in 1909. The chief architects, Lang and Witchell, designed similar looking courthouses in Johnson County and Scurry County (later remodeled) around the same time. According to legend, the first Cooke County courthouse, a log structure built in 1850, was destroyed by a steer trying to escape a swarm of flies.
Settlement of the area now known as Cooke County began in late 1845. The county was created by the State Legislature in 1848 and named for William G. Cooke, Republic of Texas Quartermaster General and a participant in the Battle of San Jacinto. Land for a county seat was donated by Mary E. Clark, and the new town was Gainesville in honor of U.S. Army General Edmund Pendleton Gaines.
There have been four courthouses located on this site. The first, a small log structure, was erected in 1850. It was replaced in 1853 by a one-story frame building which was later destroyed by fire. The third courthouse, a two-story limestone structure, was completed in 1880 and destroyed by fire in 1909.
Designed by the Dallas architectural firm of Lang and Witchell, construction of this Beaux Arts style courthouse began in 1910. The Gainesville firm of Garrett and Collins served as supervising architects, and M. P. Kelly of Gainesville was the contractor. The impressive brick and limestone building features terra cotta ornamentation, eagle brackets, and a copper-clad dome. Clocks were added to the dome in 1920 as a World War I memorial. The courthouse is an important North Texas Landmark.