Brazoria County Courthouse
The Brazoria County Courthouse had undergone much damage after the 1932 storm that hit the Houston and Galveston area, having also been used as a refugee site during the storm. After investigations about whether the courthouse should be renovated, in 1939, the Brazoria County officials and a grand jury finalized that a new courthouse would be constructed with Public Works Administration funding. The new building consisted of five stories with a county jail on the fifth floor. In addition, the project utilized $500,000 and around 100 workers. While there were countless applications sent for PWA funding, it seems that the courthouse was financed by a city bond issue carried out by the Knutson Construction Company. There is record of the PWA to have a contract with a firm that may or may not have committed to this project. It is unknown whether that firm is the Knutson Construction Company, and a 1940 cornerstone on the building laid by the local Masonic chapter does not reference a federal project or local contractor.
Additionally, the structure and architectural design of the new site is consistent with other New Deal projects and works funded by the PWA. The symmetrical form and recessed windows with vertical panels of the courthouse were integrated to exemplify the PWA Moderne style. While the PWA Moderne architectural design also incorporates a variety of other styles, like classical designs and Art Deco, a simple and minimalistic exterior seen throughout most PWA buildings. Smooth exterior finishes unique to PWA Moderne include the use of shell stones and granite for the outside of the Brazoria County Courthouse. The art works sculpted on the outside, like the metal panel over the main entrance and a carved corner stone, are also demonstrative of Art Deco style which utilizes decorations inspired by Native American and Egyptian artwork.
The courthouse was designed by Lamar Q. Cato, who specialized in modern architectural design and had also designed other PWA projects like the University of Houston Roy G. Cullen Building and Lamar High School on Westheimer Road in Houston, which explains the similar structural design to PWA projects. This courthouse is still standing and functional today.
“Tropical Storm Lashes Houston and Galveston.” Chicago Tribune, August 14, 1932, Page 6, https://www.newspapers.com/image/355062651/?terms=Brazoria%20county%20courthouse&match=1#
“Bond Issues for Bridge and Court House Discussed.” The Freeport Facts, July 14, 1938, Page 1, https://www.newspapers.com/image/10430135/
“Granite Work To Begin Next Month On Court House,” The Freeport Facts, March 28, 1940 Page 19, https://www.newspapers.com/image/11874280/?
“Court House Bids Will Be Invited On Oct. 2,” The Freeport Facts, September 14, 1939, Page 1 https://www.newspapers.com/image/11866860/?terms=%22brazoria%20county%20courthouse%22&match=1
“Hundreds Attend Laying of Corner Stone on Angleton,” The Freeport Facts, May 2, 1940, Page 1 https://www.newspapers.com/image/11875462/
“County Officials Visit, Inspect City Hall In Houston,” The Freeport Facts, March 28, 1940, Page 19 https://www.newspapers.com/image/11874280/?terms=%22courthouse%22%20%22lamar%22&match=1
“Notice of County Courthouse and Jail Bond Election,” The Freeport Facts, June 1, 1929, Page 4, https://www.newspapers.com/image/11863335/?terms=%22courthouse%22&match=1
“Contract For New Brazoria County Court House Let,” The Freeport Facts, December 7, 1939, Page 1 https://www.newspapers.com/image/11869837/?terms=%22new%20courthouse%22&match=1
“Grand Jury Cites Need of New Court House and Jail,” The Freeport Facts, July 28, 1938, Page 1 https://www.newspapers.com/image/10430438/
“Proposed Brazoria County Courthouse,” The Alvin Sun, September 15, 1939, https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1251892/m1/1/zoom/?q=brazoria%20county%20courthouse&resolution=6.930154136752492&lat=3600.232676971818&lon=1910.912857049028
Wellborn, Woods Kenneth. [Brazoria County Courthouse, (Southwest oblique)], photograph, June 26, 1979; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth683456/m1/1/?q=brazoria%20county%20courthouse: accessed November 22, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Commission.
Project originally submitted by Fatimah Khan on December 23, 2021.
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