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Texas Pecos Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Edwards County Courthouse


Rocksprings, elected Edwards County seat in 1891, consisted of a post office, blacksmith, hotel, one doctor, two saloons, and a population of 250 at the time. The new county seat completed the county’s current stone courthouse within the same year. According to the Commissioners Court minutes, the Kerrville team of Ben Davey and Bruno Schott, architect and contractor, were hired to accomplish the task for $18,000. Yorkshire-born Davey and Schott, a German immigrant, partnered on several Texas landmark buildings of the period including the Schreiner Bank Building in Kerrville, the Kimble County Jail, and the Brenham City Hall. Davey chose to design the Edwards County courthouse in a stone vernacular Victorian style, a reflection of the popular Texas architectural approach at the time. The courthouse details were also reminiscent of designs by San Antonio architect Alfred Giles, architect for a number of Texas courthouses, who worked with Davey and Schott on several Kerrville projects.

The limestone used to construct the courthouse came from a local Rocksprings quarry just east of the city limits. Unlike many state courthouses constructed with specific designs for courtrooms and offices, designating the Edwards County courthouse rooms were left to commissioners. On May 11, 1892, Commissioner Court minutes recorded the office assignments: “… the southwest room is the County and District Clerk’s room, the southeast room is the County Judge’s Office, the northeast room is for the Sherriff’s Office, and the northwest to be used as County Surveyor’s, County Treasurer’s and Assessor’s office. The small southeast room on the second story is designated as the Grand Jury Room and the other small northeast room is to be used by the Petit Jury room and the large room to be used as the courtroom.” Signage above each doorway, also designed and crafted by Davey and Schott, were commissioned for an amount “not to exceed $9.00”.

 County employees had the opportunity to enjoy their new offices for a mere six years before a devastating fire gutted the entire structure, leaving only charred stone exterior walls. The cause of the fire remained unknown and the conflagration accomplished the complete destruction of county records.

The county elected to rebuild, once again hiring Davey and Schott, but rather than restore the courthouse to its original design, the structure was simplified, likely due to the county’s lack of funds. Most of the upper walls of the courthouse required a complete rebuild along with a new interior floor and roof structure.

The county experienced another short reprieve before fire of a different kind struck. In 1910, local Hispanic ranch-hand Antonio Rodriguez was accused of shooting and killing the wife of a local rancher despite lack of proof. Rather than allowed to stand trial, Rodriguez was pulled from his jail cell by an angry mob and lynched. The crowd tied Rodriguez to a mesquite tree, piled wood around the tree and poured oil on him then set Rodriguez on fire. The incident caused a diplomatic scandal in the U.S., massive protests across Mexico and, according to some scholars, served as an instrumental catalyst for the citizen revolt that started the Mexican Revolution.

Edwards County justice would once again suffer another devastating blow in 1927. On April 12, an F5 tornado cut a mile-wide path of destruction through Rocksprings, destroying 235 of the 247 buildings in town and killing 74 citizens. Although the courthouse survived intact, the tornado blew out its windows, taking all court records with them.

Today, with assistance from a Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program grant, a restored Edwards County courthouse continues to serve county citizens, rededicated in its rebuilt, post-1897 version on July 


Location

  • Main and Sweeten Streets
  • Rocksprings, Texas
  • 78880

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Hours & Fees

  • Monday - Friday 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

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