Exploring The Denton County Courthouse

Courthouse Denton County
Looking at our beautiful courthouse on the square, it’s almost impossible not to want to investigate every nook and cranny of it. How exciting it would be to climb all the way up to that clock tower! I want to have a picnic on that balcony at the top. Unfortunately, that activity is not allowed.

There are no tours that explore the upper floors of the courthouse and take tourists to the tower. Let me repeat that, just in case you didn’t get it the first go-round: the county does not give tours of the upper floors of the building. Visitors may wander somewhat freely in the basement, on the first floor (where the Courthouse-on-the-Square Museum is located), on the second floor, and even on the third floor. Some of it is restricted because it’s office space for Heaven’s sake. We can’t just be barging in on county commissioners while they work.

Authorized Personnel only
However, that’s the extent of it. A chain blocks the spiral staircase that leads to the upper floors, with a sign that says “Authorized Personnel Only.”

That sign tells the public not to go futher (sorry, when faced with deciphering the proper English usage between “farther” and “further” I opt for the Texan —“futher”) and it means exactly what it says! I’ve heard some folks say, “One day I’m just going to step over that chain and climb up there.” I urge you not to do it.

First, you could get arrested. Yes, you really could. And second, there is more than one darned good reason that the public isn’t allowed up there. It’s dangerous. Folks could damage the courthouse or themselves! Some unscrupulous scalawags have even defaced that lovely edifice with graffiti. And, it’s dangerous (didn’t I already tell you that?).

Nope. The public doesn’t get to see the mysteries of the upper floors of the courthouse. That said, I got to take a tour of it! Yes, moi! It’s not that I’m particularly special, although I will admit that I’m a legend in my own mind. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I got an invite to climb those stairs, and I jumped at the chance.

If you aren’t familiar with our courthouse (the third courthouse built in the town), the brochure for the walking tour of Denton describes it this way: “Denton County Courthouse On the Square was built between 1895 and 1897, using locally quarried limestone, gray sandstone from Mineral Wells, and Burnet County red granite for the columns.” That doesn’t quite do it justice, but it will have to do for the moment. Suffice to say it is magnificent.

You want to see what I did, don’t you? Yes, I knew you would. As a friend said, it’s like getting to see the Pope’s bathroom or Antarctica. It’s something that you probably won’t ever get to do, but you can at least experience it vicariously.

I’ve put together a few pictures for you, although I won’t bore you with all of them. I just want you to get a chance to see what is behind those walls. Click on the first picture below and you can view a slide show.

No, that isn’t all of the pictures I took, but it should give you an idea of the mysteries beyond that chained gate.

While I am immensely grateful to have gotten the opportunity to see it, I’m not sure I would climb up there again. At least, I wouldn’t go all the way to the clock tower. I really balked at the stairs for the last two flights … after all, I’m a little old lady and I’m not an athlete. However, I had bragged about the fact that I was going up there! If I backed away from the challenge, it would be like a ten-year-old walking away from a triple-dog-dare.

I would have loved to show you the bell, but I was too afraid to take my hands from the ladder rungs. And, I hoped to video the clock moving when it struck the hour … but, duh, I forgot to press the button to make it record. Still, I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour, since you probably won’t ever get to take one. Remember, the county does not offer tours of the upper floor of the courthouse (sheesh, I hope that satisfies the powers that be!).

  12 comments for “Exploring The Denton County Courthouse

  1. Tom
    June 12, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Very nice photos from the tower. The view to the North reminds me of a story. I was there for the dedication of Stark Hall. a high rise dorm, in 1967. You have a good view from the photo.

    The event was outside and the first speaker ended with ” we welcome this new erection on the TWU campus”. Now ,back then ,the school was NOT known for the beauty of its coeds and a voice from the audience declared that “there has NEVER been an erection on this campus” There was silence and then laughter and then more chants about giving Peace a Chance (remember it was 1967)
    This is how I remembered it but my memory is fading as the years pass.

    • June 12, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Bwahahaha! Tom, you crack me up. Fortunately you dated that to BEFORE when I matriculated at TWU. If you hadn’t, I’d have to hunt you down … and I know where to find you!

  2. Jamie
    June 12, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Great pictures and quite an adventure. For future reference, the down and dirty easy way to remember farther/further is: “Farther” is distance and “further” is time, but I really like “futher”.

    • June 12, 2014 at 8:35 am

      I kinda knew that, Jamie, but you know me well enough to know that I have to be silly AND I have to throw some Texan in there somewhere.

  3. June 12, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Oh, Shelly, Shelly, Shelly…I am pea green with envy! What terrific pictures! I’ll be back in October–a year since I took your ghost tour–and hope to hear more stories. Actually, I’ll be there two whole weeks, so if you’ve got anything special going on the last week in October and the first week in November, PLEASE let me know!

  4. June 12, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I’m so glad you posted this! What fabulous photos & what an adventure!

    I would have had to coax myself up that vertical ladder. Why are those so much more scary than an angled ladder? I dunno! *shudder*

    How cool, too, that you found decades-old graffiti. I expected the grand views, but that graffiti was a surprise!

    Great post, Shelly!

    While I know we all can’t go up in the Denton Courthouse, your post gives us all a chance to experience it safely for ourselves.

  5. June 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    What a great opportunity, but honestly, it would have been a tough climb up for me. I have a love/hate relationship with heights, I love going up, scared going down. Your photos tell quite a story, glad you got the chance to see the “big picture”.

  6. June 29, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I enjoyed reading this post about the Denton Courthouse. And, the pictures are great too…brave girl!

    • June 29, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Janet, thanks for the compliment! I just discovered your blog and love it!

  7. July 18, 2014 at 6:23 am

    I love old buildings and spending time imaging the people who have been there before me and the stories they could tell.
    This looks like a fascinating place – thanks for sharing

    • July 18, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      You are so welcome! Obviously, I love sharing the tales 🙂

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