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Hopkins County Courthouse

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1895, J. Riely Gordon; 2002 rehabilitated, Archi-Texas. 118 Church St.

The courthouse designed by Gordon is the first in a series of floor plan developments known as his Signature Plan. It led to his courthouse masterpieces in Ellis (CW19) and Wise (DD26) counties. Of equal importance here is the architect’s Richardsonian Romanesque vocabulary that characterized his subsequent projects and influenced the design of numerous other courthouses in Texas. Here for the first time, Gordon employed corner porches through which visitors entered the building diagonally into a central stair hall, which is expressed externally by a square tower rising majestically above the roof.

The second-floor courtroom curves the building’s footprint on the east side like an apse and is marked by elongated arched windows. The courthouse’s walls of Texas pink granite contrast boldly with voussoirs, lintels, and stringcourses of red sandstone. Adding to the building’s decorative treatment are carved faces beneath the north- and south-facing third-story curved balconets, a band of polychrome checkerboard pattern below the eaves, and cartouches bearing the date of construction. Rectangular ventilation flues and circular turrets enliven the roof and focus attention on the imposing tower. The courthouse was rehabilitated in 2002 with funding from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.

The courthouse is unusual in occupying the northeast corner of the large town square. Its awkward position within the landscaped square is the outcome of a well-intentioned but unfortunate urban revitalization effort. In the 1980s, businesses just south of the courthouse were razed and Oak Street was extended northward, passing behind the building, to terminate at Jefferson Street. The result was an eccentric space, neither anchored by a central courthouse nor bounded by surrounding facades. The adjacent blocks in the town grid are of unequal sizes and shapes, further exaggerating the lack of focus generally found in a courthouse square.

Writing Credits

Gerald Moorhead et al.



Gerald Moorhead et al., "Hopkins County Courthouse", [Sulphur Springs, Texas], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Texas

Buildings of Texas: East, North Central, Panhandle and South Plains, and West, Gerald Moorhead and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019, 113-113.

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