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.
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!).