Llano County Courthouses
Llano County has been the home of four courthouses, all located in Llano:
Llano County Courthouse 1859 - First Courthouse. The first building was a plain one-story "box" located south of the public square. However, this building, along with many records, was destroyed by fire on October 18, 1880. Arson was suspected.
Llano, TX Courthouse Fire, Oct 1880 at gendisasters.com.
Llano County Courthouse 1880 - Temporary Courthouse. Two rooms with a fireproof vault between the rooms. Rented in 1885 to the Christian Church.
Architect C.S. Jones and builder J. K. Finely erected the $1550 a temporary courthouse in 1880, pending the construction of a permanent structure. Its two rooms contained a fireproof vault, with one room being for county administrative personnel, and the second room for the legal and law enforcement personnel. - wikipedia.org
Llano County Courthouse 1885 - Third Courthouse. Early in 1884, the county judge was ordered to advertise for plans, specifications, and bids for the erection of a new permanent two-story courthouse to contain at least six offices and two fireproof vaults in the ground story and two jury rooms and a courtroom in the upper story. However, the original order was rescinded and plans were prepared by Alfred Giles of San Antonio. In form and style this building was virtually identical to Giles' Renaissance Revival design for the Gillespie County Courthouse, Fredericksburg (1881-1882), which is now used as a library. Located in the center of the public square, the building was completed with the installation of copper lightening rods in 1885. Although built with bricks, early in 1892 this fine courthouse also burned. Moreover, the brick vault survived and the county records were saved. - National Register Listing. Burned on January 22, 1892. Remains of the building were sold.
Llano, TX Courthouse Fire, Jan 1892 at gendisasters.com.
Llano County Courthouse 1893 - Current Courthouse. Designed by Austin architect A. O. Watson, this building is the fourth courthouse for Llano County. Work on the structure began in 1892 and was completed one year later. The contractors were J. A. and G. H. Wilson of Sulphur Springs. The courthouse was later surrounded by an iron fence, but only the stone foundations remain. Exterior styling of the building features detailing of sandstone, marble, and granite. Fires damaged the interior in 1932 and 1952 . Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1980. - Historical Marker Text.
The Llano County Courthouse is a fine work of masonry on a traditional plan, designed by the firm of Jacob Larmour and A. O. Watson. The ground floor is divided into four quadrants containing offices by corridors passing through the center of the building in the north-south and east-west directions. The large two-story courtroom, along with four small rooms used by jurors, etc. occupies the second floor. On a third level, above the small second-story rooms are located additional offices.
The courthouse is in Romanesque Revival style and it retains virtually all is original exterior character. The composition consists of a large rectangular mass with three corner pavilions and a corner tower. The pavilion rooms are pyramidal while the roof over the main section (courtroom) is in the form of a truncated pyramid.
The north and south facades are five-part compositions and the east and west facades are three-part compositions, all with identical entrances emphasized by projecting features. At each entrance granite columns with marble capitals and bases flank the doorways and support an entablature incorporating a frieze decorated with a saw toothed pattern. Above this appears a window spanned by a Roman arch with a pronounced archival, flanked by quoins of quarry-faced granite. This central compositional unit is surmounted by gable with a bull's eye window and a decorative coping. Double doors provide access the interiors.
The patterns of window openings contribute to the effectiveness of the architectural statement. On the first and second stories, openings are paired in each compositional component. On the third story, five openings appear in each facade of the pavilions.
The courthouse massing with a tower located on a corner rather than rising from the center is unusual in Texas and apparently had its origins in circumstances of site planning and in changes requested by the county commissioners during the course of planning. Evidently because the public square slopes downward appreciably to the northwest, it originally had been specified that the edifice be located on the southwest corner of the square. As a result of this requirement and the dictates of good composition, the architects placed the tower in an offset position on the southwest corner with entrances only on the south and west. Later the commissioners ordered the location moved to the center of the square and porticoes with designs matching those on the south and west were added to the north and east facades. Then the tower was moved to the northeast corner-- the location of the cornerstone.
On the exterior walls of bricks are accented with stone details. Granite with tan color was use throughout for both structural and decorative work. On the ground floor granite lintels span the door and window openings. Roman arches with voussoirs of granite with pronounced archivolts span the second-story window openings. At the third story of the pavilions polished granite columns with marble capitals and bases support arcades with granite arches. Granite was also used for the base of the building as well as for the quoining which has tooled corner margins. In addition granite was employed for a wide stringcourse at the second floor level and narrow courses girdling the structure at the window sill levels on both the first and second stories. This material was also used for the exterior steps. Rising above the stone base, buff-colored bricks were used to finish the broad surfaces of the walls. These are terminated by a granite corbel table and a metal cornice.
Conforming to the main masses of the building, the tower was built of bricks with granite trim. Arches of granite span the wide window openings. This material also was used for the finials. The storied sections of the tower, the lower one of which displays clocks, were finished with sheet metal components with stamped shingle patterns.
The interior finishes were functional. Walls were plastered throughout and wainscots of wood capped by heavy moldings appear in the circulation areas and in the courtroom. While the hall wainscots and wooden trim have been painted, the wood finishes throughout the courtroom retain their original natural finish. Acoustical tile with recessed light fixtures recently has been installed in the courtroom.
Stairways with ornamental newels and balusters provide prominent ornamental features for the interior halls. While the railings, balusters and newels are wood, the treads of the stairs are iron, manufactured by F. Heierman and Bros., Austin.
The form of the building is cubical with a gabled pavilion projecting from both the east and west elevations. On the west this feature accents the main entrance which is spanned by a broad arch; on the east is contains a service entrance. All this is surmounted by a masonry tower with rectangular openings which provided for ventilation and by high stone chimneys rising from the north and south ends. The main mass and the tower are covered with hipped roofs of standing-seam sheet metal and the latter is decorated with cylindrical finials. Cornices with delicate brackets terminate the edge of the roof. - National Register Listing.
Llano, TX Courthouse Fire, Sept 1932 at gendisasters.com.
Llano, TX Courthouse Fire, Dec 1951 at gendisasters.com.