This was our ninety-first Courthouse in Texas to visit. That means we are at 35.8% of our goal with 64.2% left to go. We just happened to sneak into the back of a Corvette car show. Several people came over to see and photograph the car.
Originally part of Bexar County, the area became part of Kerr County in 1856 with the town of Comfort (founded in 1854) selected as the county seat. It served as the county seat for two years before Kerrville became the county seat. In 1859, residents in the eastern part of Kerr County petitioned for the formation of a new county. In 1862, Kendall County was cut from Comal, Kerr and Blanco counties and officially organized. It was named for journalist George Wilkins Kendall, who was a member of the Texas Santa Fe Expedition and a veteran of the Mexican War. His reporting during the war led him to be hailed as the nation’s first war correspondent and he was also regarded as the father of the sheep business in Texas. The community of Tusculum (named for Cicero’s home in ancient Rome) founded in 1849 by German immigrants was renamed Boerne in 1852 after German author Ludwig Boerne and Boerne was chosen as the county seat when Kendall County was organized.
Construction on Kendall County’s first courthouse, which served as the county’s only courthouse for 128 years, didn’t begin until 1869 and it was completed in 1870. Designed by Philip Zoeller and J. F. Stendebach and built of limestone, the courthouse was a one-story building two bays deep and four bays wide. In 1885 (some sources say 1886,) a second story was built based on plans by Charles Buckel, which included corner quoining, cut stone lintels and a two-story porch at the front entrance. The building was completed with a Mansard cupola over the front entrance and cast iron cresting on the roof.
The courthouse was altered again in 1909 when a substantial addition was built onto the front entrance, doubling the size of the building. Designed in an Italianate style by noted Texas architect Alfred Giles and built by E. H. Clemens, the addition was built with a combination of smooth and quarry-faced ashlar limestone, contrasting with the smooth stone of the original part of the courthouse. The front of the building is emphasized with a triple arched arcade, a second story porch with a stone balustrade, semi-circular arches over the second story windows and wide, smooth stone stringcourses. Octagonal wings with hipped roofs frame each side of the entrance and the roof is made of standing seam sheet metal. A parapet on the roof in the center of the 1909 addition bears the date of construction. From its original construction date of 1870, the Kendall County courthouse is the second-oldest courthouse in Texas in continuous use. (The Cass County courthouse is the oldest.)
Many interior alterations were made over the years to accommodate the needs of the growing county until a modern courthouse was constructed in 1998, mimicking many of the architectural features of the older courthouse. In 2008, Kendall County was successful in obtaining a $1.285 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission’s historic courthouse preservation program which, not only allowed the county to update the electrical, plumbing and environmental systems and install a new elevator, but enabled them to restore the interior of the old courthouse to its 1909 condition. The restoration was completed in 2010 and the courthouse was rededicated on April 10, 2010.