This was our ninety-ninth Courthouse in Texas to visit. That means we are at 39% of our goal with 61% left to go.
Edwards County was named for Nacogdoches settler and empresario Haden Edwards, who, with his brother Benjamin, led the short-lived Fredonian Rebellion against the Mexican government in 1826-27. The county was formed in 1858 but not officially organized until 1883 with the town of Bullhead, later renamed Vance, designated as the county seat. By the following year, the county seat was moved to the town of Leakey. (Leakey would later become the county seat of Real County when that county was organized in 1913.) According to the Texas historical commission, the first courthouse was constructed in 1883. It burned in Leakey on July 10, 1888.
In 1891, a new, more centrally located site was selected for the county seat. The town that was founded was named Rocksprings (originally Rock Springs) after the natural springs that bubbled forth from the crevices of the rocks in Llano Canyon. A local town store served as the courthouse until the current courthouse was built. Designed and built by Ben Davey and Bruno Schott of Kerrville, it was constructed in 1891 with native limestone in a vague Romanesque Revival style. Almost square in shape, the hipped roof had Mansard cupolas over the north and south side entrances, a balcony, and stone arches over the windows. On December 23, 1898 (sources often mistakenly give the year as 1897) the courthouse was gutted by a fire, leaving only the outer walls, and these details were lost. The original architects rebuilt the courthouse the following year. Stone gables with carved, foliated designs replaced the Mansard roofs and simple lintels over the windows replaced the stone arches. The building has wooden two over two windows and wooden doors with wooden fanlight transoms and stone voussoirs over the transoms. On April 12, 1927, a tornado, which devastated most of the town, destroyed the courthouse’s roof which was later repaired. The courthouse itself was one of the few buildings in town left standing.
Although the exterior was mostly untouched, modern renovations over the years had drastically changed the interior of the courthouse. In 2010, Edwards County received a restoration planning grant of nearly $100,000 followed by a grant of over $1 million in 2012 towards an historic restoration of the building to its 1898 post-fire condition. New cement floors were poured and the wooden window frames, doors, fanlights and staircase wainscoting were restored and/or replicated. An 1898 courthouse bench was used as a model for the replicated bench seating in the courtroom. Several original 1898 pieces in the courtroom still exist and were restored, including the judge’s bench, an attorney’s table, several of the chairs and the balustrade between the judge’s bench and the gallery. The courthouse also received modern electrical, plumbing and environmental systems along with the building’s first elevator. The restoration was completed and a rededication ceremony was held on July 5, 2014.