In 130 years, Navarro County has gone
through over five courthouses and a lot of history has passed through these
seats of county governments whether they were log cabins, or granite and brick
There are five official courthouses
listed on the corner stone in the present courthouse. But these are only
the courthouses built specifically to house county government.
There were many other temporary
governmental houses including a tavern, a carpenter's shop, and a three room log
cabin which was a private home, according to a paper written by W. P. Murchison
for the Navarro County Historical Society. It was Murchison's paper which
provided the bulk of the information of this article.
The first real courthouse was a log
cabin, 16 by 17 feet built in 1848 by J. A. Johnson, the sheriff at the time,
for $100. It was located on the southeast corner of W. 1st Ave., and N.
12th St., and didn't have any windows. The Judge and the county clerk sat
in opposite corners of the one room building and the jury deliberated underneath
a post oak tree outside.
The walls, as an early judge described
them, had "cracks big enough to throw a wolf through," but the
building was also used for school classes, church and lodge meetings. It
was built as a temporary structure while the new and second courthouse was being
The second courthouse was a two-story
frame building built by Thomas J. Haynes at a cost of $4,000. It had an
interesting demise, being burned by arsonists on November 14, 1855 to destroy
indictment records. All of the District Court records were
destroyed, but most of the county clerk records, including the land titles, were
The third courthouse was a two-story
brick building which cost the county $10,000 to build. It was used as a
social center, for public meetings, school and church services and dances.
A few of the rooms were rented to single men of the town. After the civil
war it was the governing center for occupying Union troops. The population
of Navarro County grew during the 1870's and the commissioners decided to build
a new and larger courthouse with construction beginning in 1880.
The fourth courthouse was more elaborate
and beautiful than any of the previous buildings. It was designed by well
known architect, F. E. Fuffini of Austin.
This courthouse was built in nine stages
to allow settling between each stage. By the time the building was
complete on Sept 7th 1881, it had cost the county $43,000.
The original plans called for Corsicana
red brick, but the architect persuaded the commissioners to have cream colored
brick made in Austin, brought in for the structure. It was an ornate
building but it was too small for the growing needs of the county and despite
precautions the shifting Corsicana soil took its toll causing the building to be
condemned in less than 24 years.
The present courthouse was built in 1905
at the cost of $128,000. J. E. Flanders of Dallas was the architect and it
was constructed of gray bricks and red Burnett granite with a slate roof.
The building has 40 rooms and furniture and fixtures ran the cost of the
building up to approximately $175,000.
The building has several striking
features, including an old clock in the tower and a beautiful stained glass
ceiling in the rotunda.
The courthouse was renovated in 1964 at
the cost of $350,000, twice the original cost of the building.