“Old” Irion County Courthouse (Sherwood)
Year Built: 1900.
Architect: Martin and Moodie.
This now-defunct courthouse is located in the tiny and sparsely-populated “town” of Sherwood, Texas in Irion County. In order to get to Sherwood by car you must cross the bridge over Spring Creek. The cost of building a railroad bridge over the creek is the generally accepted reason for the demise of Sherwood as the county seat.
The courthouse is very handsome, with a clock tower with painted faces. Its four entrances are situated under Roman arches, with detail and the cornerstone on the north face.
The courthouse lawn or “courthouse square” is entirely enclosed within a chain link fence. When we visited, there was a camper trailer on property that appeared to be occupied by an Irion County Sheriff’s Deputy.
The courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 29, 1977.
From the Texas Historical Marker:
(Built 1900-1901) First permanent courthouse for Irion County, locally organized 1889. Replaced temporary housing in several buildings. Site was gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ripley. Contractors: Martin and Moody. Stone was quarried nearby. Courthouse was used for dances, teachers’ institutes, community events; yard, for summer socials. Enclosed to keep out grazing stock, approach was by a stile over fence beside which were water troughs and hitching posts for teams and saddle horses. A 1936 election made Mertzon county seat. Once pride of area, this is now a community center. (1971)
Excerpt from the TSHA article about the town of Sherwood:
According to differing sources, a post office opened in either 1881 or 1890. The town was laid out in 1886. When the county was organized in 1889, Sherwood became the county seat, and a courthouse was built. With a population of 339 in 1900 Sherwood was virtually the county’s only population center. In 1900 the voters approved the sale of bonds to construct a new courthouse, which was completed in 1901. The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway bypassed the community in its 1910–11 construction, however. The new railroad town of Mertzon arose to draw most of the people and businesses from Sherwood. In 1936 an election designated Mertzon the county seat. In 1986 Sherwood had a population of forty-seven. In 1990 the population was seventy-three. The population doubled reaching 150 in 2000.
Martin & Moodie built multiple other courthouses in Texas, including: