Reflecting on Caldwell County Courthouse

I adore old courthouses. I marvel at the care that was taken a century or more ago to build the government seat. Courthouses built in the late 1800s, even those built in tiny towns, often have lovely architectural embellishments. Have you noticed that most government offices we build these days are sterile, antiseptic structures (with metal detectors at the door)? Those new ones are hardly photo worthy.

When we ventured to Lockhart, Texas in search of barbecue we discovered that Smitty’s Market was near the Caldwell County Courthouse square. We couldn’t resist the opportunity to take pictures of this lovely edifice.

Walking around the square, I noticed the reflection of the courthouse in a store window. I tried to get creative with my photography (without much success).

Caldwell County courthouse in reflection

Artsy fartsy attempt

I turned around to snap a picture of what I was seeing in the glass.

Caldwell County courthouse

The real deal

Because of the position of the sun, I couldn’t snap a good picture of the face of the courthouse, but it was impressive enough from the rear. Finished in 1894 (although the cornerstone claims 1893), this structure is built of Muldoon blue sandstone with Pecos red sandstone trim. The style is Second Empire (and I know these things thanks to TexasEscapes.

Courthouse in Lockhart Texas

Showing its backside

Did our ancestors build these glorious structures out of a respect for law and the government? Or, were these grandiose courthouses monuments to the dreams and ambitions they had for their community?

Corner of the Caldwell County courthouse in Lockhart

Around the corner

Just wandering the grounds of this courthouse, I felt I had gone back in time.

  10 comments for “Reflecting on Caldwell County Courthouse

  1. March 10, 2010 at 10:41 am

    I love old buildings too. This one is magnificent. (And I think you’re right: it was about prestige, hopes & dreams.)

    • March 10, 2010 at 11:02 am

      I figured I might be. Are you going to move to wordpress? I want to be able to comment on your ghost stories at your blogstream account!

  2. March 10, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Take a look.

    .-= fairweatherlewis´s last blog ..RE: Comments =-.

    • March 10, 2010 at 12:26 pm

      Whee! And, a ghost story just for ME? I’m so honored. I hope you start posting on that blog instead of the others. I can comment there 🙂

  3. March 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I love that first picture, the reflection in the window. what a cool idea. (that no doubt I will forget)
    .-= caite@a lovely shore breeze´s last blog ..Stinky Bandit Tuesday! =-.

    • March 11, 2010 at 7:03 am

      Give it a try sometime. I didn’t crop it, so that you could see me crouching and know it was a reflection and not just a poor quality picture. :lol;

  4. March 10, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    What a beautiful old building! So perfect for its era.
    Living as I do in big, bad Baltimore, I do my civic jury duty at the Mitchell Courthouse, a monster building a whole city block square. It’s in a classic Greek Revival style with massive columns. It’s only slightly newer than the Caldwell County Courthouse, having been finished around 1900 or so. I’m always impressed with the dignity and majesty of the courtrooms with their dark woodwork, beautifully finished Classical details, and enormous proportions. I’m sure that a large measure of civic pride was involved in its construction and furnishing. But I also think that people must have thought that the law, the courts, the jury system, and all that goes with it–these are serious things. The activities of justice are important, and they deserve to be carried out in important surroundings. I feel much the same way about old churches or other houses of worship. Certainly you can worship anywhere. But having a separate, dedicated building conveys the importance of the actions that will take place in it. As our country was settled, when people were able to build a school, a church, and a courthouse, they were saying, “We’re committed to living our lives in this place.”
    .-= Anne´s last blog ..The Work of Human Hands =-.

    • March 11, 2010 at 6:56 am

      Eloquently said, Anne. Thank you. I, too, wondered if respect for the majesty of the law and government might have played a part. In Denton, we have outgrown the courthouse, and most of the work of the law happens at a very bland building across town. It’s a pity. When I enter a building such as these courthouses, I feel a sense of awe. Perhaps if we still built magnificent courtrooms, we’d have more respect for the judicial system?

      • Joy
        March 11, 2010 at 11:43 pm

        Food for the eyes and our thoughts! What a great sentiment, that last thought on your reply. Courthouses, and a lot of other architectural wonders, were built out of respect for the institution they embody. (Perhaps if we had more respect for the built environment, we’d still build magnificent courthouses.)

        o Check out the Harlem Courthouse, NYC, a beauty worth exploring, if only by photos; built around the same time:
        o The LA County Courthouse prior to (sadly) earthquake damage:
        o I stumbled upon this photo, in La Grange, TX: Maybe you’ve seen it. Gargoyles, anyone?

        At least we’ve learned to appreciate, and preserve, the precious buildings we have from past centuries.
        .-= Joy´s last blog ..WHAT’S THAT FRAGRANCE? =-.

        • March 19, 2010 at 7:32 pm

          I enjoyed all those links, Joy. Thank you for taking time to post them. I’ve seen the Gargoyles in La Grange, but didn’t have a camera!

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