The Round VIII grant cycle focused on courthouses’ most urgent and critical needs. There were 24 applicants in this round of grant funding, but only 18 were awarded grant funding.
A project aimed at stabilizing the courthouse’s foundation was recently completed, and according to Architect Lorraine Dailey, was very successful. Test results show very little movement in the foundation after the conclusion of the project, Dailey explained, and the next logical step is to continue on with the full restoration of the historic building’s roof.
“The goal of this program is to assist as many counties as possible,” said THC Architecture Division Director Sharon Fleming. “Our historic county courthouses are perceived as the heart of the communities throughout the Lone Star State, and the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program strives to not only preserve them, but make them functioning, safe, and up-to-date facilities for all those who use them.”
The proposed project will restore the courthouse roof to its original appearance. New slate tile will be installed and the Second Empire style mansard roof will be recreated above the east facade. Missing chimneys and rooftop cresting will be replicated and lightning protection will be installed. New gutters and downspouts will direct rain away from the building this work will help to preserve the remaining original materials in the building from further damage and deterioration by eliminating the persistent roof leaks the building has suffered, while at the same time advancing the project towwards the ultimate goal of a full restoration.
The Karnes County courthouse is a Romanesque Revival building designed by architect and builder John Cormack. Its construction began in 1894 by Cormack and completed after Cormack’s death by his business partner, Jacob Astor Austin. Heavily modified in 1927 by San Antonio architect Henry Phelps, the historic courthouse was in dire need of work prior to the initiation of restoration activities. The building served as the center of county government throughout the 20th century. In 2004 and 2010, Karnes County received previous THC Texas Historic Preservation Program grants totaling $1.24 million.