Five Courthouses in 130 Years
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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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 buildings.

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.

 


First Courthouse

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 built.


Second Courthouse

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 saved.

 


Third Courthouse

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.

 


Fourth Courthouse

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.

 


Fifth Courthouse

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.

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Navarro County TXGenWeb
Copyright March, 2009
Edward L. Williams & Barbara Knox