This was our nineteenth Courthouse in Texas to visit. That means we are at 7.5% of our goal with 92.5% left to go.
Built 1893. Late Victorian style. Native limestone construction. The county was organized in 1875 and named for General Alexander Somervell (1796-1854), Texas soldier, colonist, and statesman.
Court was first held in an old store across road from Barnard’s Mill. A log cabin (1 block west) was used later. Third courthouse (first on this site) was finished in 1882 but burned in 1893, along with many valuable records. Present structure has a fireproof vault.
The Somervell County Courthouse is a simple two-story structure featuring elements of Romanesque Revival and General Grant architectural styles. Intersecting hallways on the first floor divide the first-floor space into four sections. The second floor features a courtroom and some office space. The building is modest in size, oblong in shape, and approximately 60 feet wide and 40 feet deep.
Around 1860 Charles and Juana Barnard built a three-story stone gristmill along the Paluxy River. The town that eventually grew around the mill was called Barnard’s Mill. In 1871 T.C. Jordan, bought the mill and surrounding land from Charles Barnard.Mrs. T.C. Jordan called the area around Barnard’s Mill Rose Glen as a reminder of her native Scotland. Years later the town’s people voted to rename the town Glen Rose.
The county of Somervell was formed in 1875 from about 200 square miles of land previously part of Hood County. The county name honors Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Somervell.
By 1876 the town population grew sufficiently that T.C. Jordan believed the time was ripe to build a town square. Jordan promised to build a county courthouse if some of the town’s citizens would buy property around the square. The first courthouse on the square was completed around 1892 and burned down in 1893.
Second courthouse on the square, the present-day structure, was ordered built by the commissioners’ court in 1893 and completed late in the same year for a cost of $13,500. This courthouse employed elements of the Romanesque Revival architectural style. The building also featured a mansard roof treatment and ornamental iron cresting which are characteristic of the General Grant style. The courthouse was constructed of locally queried limestone.
In 1902 a tornado damaged the courthouse and many other buildings on the town square. The courthouse roof and clock tower were severely damaged. At that time, the small rural county did not have the financial resources to properly repair the roof or replace the clock tower. A modest roof repair was made by local craftsmen which omitted the clock and some of the ornate details of the original roof.
In 1986 the Somervell County Commissioners’ Court voted to restore the county courthouse. The work was completed by Ray J. Miller Construction Company of Meridian under the direction of architects Huckabee and Donham of Stephenville, Texas. Final cost of restoring the building was $601,111.20.