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Jefferson County Courthouse

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1932, Fred C. Stone and Augustin Babin. 1149 Pearl St.

At fourteen stories, the Jefferson County Courthouse became the first “skyscraper courthouse” in Texas when Beaumont architects Stone and Babin stacked the jail on top of the courthouse. The building occupies the public square deeded to Jefferson County by Nancy Tevis in 1838. With its base course of sandstone and Colorado greenstone, a limestone base, walls of mixed buff and orange brick, and tiered profile, the courthouse dominates the south end of downtown, one block from the turning basin of the Neches River ship channel. Stone and Babin enhanced its urbanistic presence with their massing, especially their use of chamfered corners. The interior, with elegant corridors and grand courtrooms, is an effusive display of Art Deco geometric ornament in terrazzo, marble, nickel, and exotic woods. In 1984 the White Budd Van Ness Partnership completed a comprehensive rehabilitation of the courthouse. A granite-faced courthouse annex (1981, White Budd Van Ness Partnership) was added north of the 1932 building. A comprehensive restoration of the courthouse was begun by Bailey Architects, with LaBiche Architectural Group in 2008, projected to extend over several multiyear phases.

Behind the courthouse and annex, the Kansas City Southern Railway tracks along the line of Washington Street cross the Neches River on a steel truss bridge (1941) whose central span can be elevated by dropping concrete counterweights carried in two slender splayed towers.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Gerald Moorhead et al.

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