This was our one hundred-sixteenth Courthouse in Texas to visit. That means we are at 45.7% of our goal with 54.3% left to go.
Although Parmer County was established in 1876, named for Martin Parmer, a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, the first settlers didn’t arrive until 1882. The area of Parmer County and parts of nine other counties on the western side of the Panhandle came under control of the Capitol Syndicate who organized the area into the XIT Ranch in 1885. The land was payment for the construction of Texas’ Capitol building in Austin. At that time, the county was populated solely by the ranch workers. In 1898, the Pecos and Northern Texas Railway was built through the area, establishing the towns of Parmer Switch (later renamed Parmerton,) Black, Friona and Bovina. As the syndicate began selling XIT lands in the late 1890s, smaller ranchers and farmers began to populate the area. In 1904, a lumber company was established by R. H. Kemp near the point where the railroad left Texas and entered New Mexico. A town, founded by the Capitol Syndicate, grew from this location and was named Farwell after brothers Charles and John Farwell, members of the Capitol Syndicate who organized the XIT Ranch. Farwell was surveyed the next year and grew rapidly. Parmer County was officially organized in May of 1907 and an election was held making Parmerton the county seat. A second election was held in December of 1907 and Farwell was made the county seat the following year. Soon afterwards, the town of Parmerton faded away. In 1913, the town of Friona challenged Farwell for the county seat. An election was held, but Friona lost. The election results were contested, but in 1916, the court ruled in favor of Farwell.
Parmer County’s first courthouse was a one-story wood frame building built on Parmerton Hill, the halfway mark between Friona and Bovina. When Farwell became the county seat, the first courthouse was towed to Friona but burned in the 1950s.
A second, permanent courthouse was not built in Farwell until 1916 and is still in use today. The current courthouse was constructed of brick in a Classical Revival style. The architects were C. Risser and William C. Townes and the contractor was William M. Rice.
Rice designed the 1916 Lynn County courthouse and his construction company built many other Texas county courthouses. An accompanying one-story brick jail was built behind the courthouse in 1917. The courthouse contains many of the design elements of the Classical Revival style courthouses in Texas at the time, but its most distinguishing feature is the triple arches over the front (west side) entrance. The interior of the courthouse was later modernized and the front entrance was closed for the installation of an elevator. In 1974, the Parmer County Law Enforcement Center was built and attached to the north side of the courthouse.
The 1916 Parmer County courthouse was added to the list of Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks in 1962.