Photo of Brown County Courthouse
About 1885

This photo was provided by the Brownwood Public Library.  It was found by Philip Nichols of Clearwater,
Florida in behind another photo he was having framed.  He donated it to the library.

This postcard is a picture of the Brown County Courthouse built on the present square in 1884 to replace a wooden building, also located here, that burned on March 29, 1880.

The cornerstone being laid on October 30, 1884.  It was of French Second Empire Style,  similar to the courthouses that are now in Weatherford, Lampasas and Hillsboro.  That is, however, not the courthouse you see here today on the square although parts of it are still there.

In 1916, the county decided to repair or remodel the courthouse.

They discussed having a bond issue, which required the approval of the voters or just remodel the present building built in 1884.

They decided that the voters would not approve a bond issue, so they voted to just remodel the present building.  In so doing, the courthouse was so thoroughly torn down and repaired that only the vault and a few walls from the 1884 courthouse survived.  The remodeling was completed in 1917.
You see the new remodeled courthouse in the postcards to your right and on the rest of this page..

The courthouse of today, shown in these postcards, is known as "classical revival brick"  You will note in the postcard above that the streets around the courthouse were not paved.

If you go into the present Justice of Peace office, you will find the outside wall of the old courthouse, as the inside wall of his office.  It curves back at an angle to the outside wall. 

The courthouse has been remodeled many times to fit the needs of the various functions of the changing role of the county.

First Courthouse In County

The first courthouse for the county was a log cabin built about 1856 about 1-1/2 miles east of its present site.  The courthouse was moved because they were unable to find a decent well, because of salt water, to provide adequate water. In 1865, a second story was added to the building that served as a Masonic Lodge.

 The title proved defective, so the courthouse moved to the present square.

This new courthouse, a small wooden building near the southwest corner of the present courthouse square, served the county until the wooden courthouse burned in 1880.

The courthouse burned because prisoners in the jail decided they would escape by burning a hole in the floor and crawling through the hole.  They succeeded in setting the floor on fire, but there was no escape from the smoke, and the men almost suffocated.
Jim Bevans was deputy sheriff under R. B. Wilson, and he managed to get the door open and drag the prisoners out, as they were not able to walk or stand alone.

The county had to move into temporary quarters over on what is now Fisk Street.  There was no courthouse from 1880 to 1885, just a vacant square.

A contract was let June 7, 1880 to Martin, Byrne & Johnson for building a new county jail at 308 Pecan Street.  This separate building from the yet to be built courthouse, housed the county prisoners until a new jail was built in 1902 across the street from the courthouse.

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The burning of the courthouse and jail in 1880

Information for this page taken from the Brownwood Banner, May 6, 1936, and the Brownwood Bulletin.

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