BONUS: Old Nueces County Courthouse (Corpus Christi)
Architect: Harvey L. Page.
Year Built: 1914.
The “old” 1914 Nueces County Courthouse is located in Corpus Christi, Texas. It faces the Corpus Christi Bay, which is visible from the courthouse. Designed in the Neo-Classical Style, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
This building gives me very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I absolutely love how it has withstood the ravages of time, neglect and weather. Even in its advanced deterioration, it is chillingly beautiful. On the other, what it has been allowed to become is shameful.
There have been many efforts to breathe new life into this grand structure. All hope for restoration is not lost, but time marching on diminishes feasibility of rebirth. The most recent concept is a $68.5 M bid to redesign the structure as a high end boutique hotel. I will update this page as that saga develops.
From the Historical Marker in front of the courthouse:
IN 1853 LAWLESSNESS IN NUECES COUNTY, WHICH COVERED MOST OF THE AREA FROM CORPUS CHRISTI TO THE MEXICAN BORDER, PROMPTED THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE FIRST COUNTY COURTHOUSE. ON THIS BLOCK, THREE LOTS WERE PURCHASED FOR $300 FROM CORPUS CHRISTI FOUNDER, HENRY LAWRENCE KINNEY (1814-1865). A SECOND COURTHOUSE WAS BUILT IN THE MID-1870s BESIDE THE FIRST.
UNDER THE ADMINISTRATION OF COUNTY JUDGE WALTER F. TIMON (1872-1952), THIS NEOCLASSICAL STRUCTURE WAS COMPLETED IN 1914 AT A COST OF $250,000. THE ARCHITECT, HARVEY L. PAGE (1859-1934) OF WASHINGTON, D.C., DESIGNED THE INTERNATIONAL & GREAT NORTHERN RAILROAD STATION IN SAN ANTONIO AND LAGUNA GLORIA IN AUSTIN, HOME OF FORMER CORPUS CHRISTI RESIDENT CLARA DRISCOLL.
ADDITIONS WERE MADE TO THE BUILDINGS IN THE 1930s AND 1960s. COURTROOMS AND OFFICES WERE ON THE FIRST FOUR FLOORS. THE TOP TWO FLOORS, SEPARATED FROM THE REST OF THE BUILDING BY AN AIR SPACE TO ELIMINATE NOISE, SERVED AS THE JAIL. IN ADDITION TO GOVERNMENT OFFICES, APARTMENTS WERE PROVIDED UNTIL THE 1950s FOR THE JAILER AND OTHER COUNTY OFFICIALS. DURING STORMS WHICH ALMOST LEVELED THE CITY, HUNDREDS OF REFUGEES SOUGHT SHELTER HERE. IN 1977 COUNTY OFFICES MOVED TO THE NEW COURTHOUSE BUILDING.