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Texas Hill Country Trail Region

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

Jourdanton


COURTING CONTROVERSY

A Texas Historical Marker on the Atascosa County courthouse grounds states,  “As early as 1722 El Camino Real (The King's Highway) from the Rio Grande to San Antonio was well established in this area. The Spanish word ‘Atascosa,’ denoting boggy ground that hindered travel, gave [the] region its name.” In springtime, that formerly boggy ground is covered with bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers, providing a profusion of color along area highways, roads and fields.

In Jourdanton, the seat of Atascosa County, there’s no town square but a town circle!  Here stands the 1913 county courthouse, an exuberant reddish-brown brick structure that’s the only surviving Mission Revival-style courthouse in Texas. Architect Henry T. Phelps designed the building with splayed staircases unfolding like scrolls, welcoming visitors inside to conduct business, to have their day in court, or to greet friends and neighbors. But life here wasn’t always peaceful.  In fact, the courthouse was built amid controversy.  Atascosa County was formed in 1856 and Pleasanton eventually became the county seat. Jourdanton was established in 1909 and grew rapidly, thanks to a railroad line. An election to move the county seat to the burgeoning town passed by 57 votes. As the new courthouse rose on the horizon, discord between Pleasanton and Jourdanton also grew.  Some residents still grumble about the “stolen courthouse” but when the historic structure was restored and rededicated in 2003 many stood proud. With assistance from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, timeworn features outside were revitalized. Inside work was designed to meet building codes and to restore period details. White tile floors with Greek key borders take visitors past marble wainscoting to staircases with polished brass handrails. Windows trimmed with dark-stained long-leaf pine contrast with buff-colored walls in this beautifully restored courthouse.


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