Stephen F. Austin State University

Old Courthouse/Harrison County Historical Museum

Peter Whetstone Square

National Register File

The Old Courthouse was listed on the National Register in 1977.

TX Historical Marker

The Old Courthouse receieved a TX Historical Marker in 1965.

Architectural Survey

Architecural Survey

• Description: The Old Courthouse is a three-story Neo-Classical/Beaux Arts cross plan courthouse built with pink granite base. The front façade contains a raised three-story pediment portico with four Ionic columns. The courthouse is crowned by a dome with a bronze plated iron balustrade and several iron eagles.

• Significance: The Courthouse is an excellent example of Renaissance Revival, Beaux Art and Classical architecture. The Courthouse served as seat of county from 1900-1964. Marshall has been the county seat since 1842.

Historical Background

Located at the center of Whetstone Square, the Old Courthouse was designed in 1900 by J. Riley Gordon and built by C.G. Lancaster. Organized in 1839, and named for Jonas Harrison, Harrison County was established in 1839. Marshall also established in 1839, was designated as the county seat due to it being in the center of the count. The first courthouse was a lob cabin which was later replaced by two other courthouses before the present one was built. J. Riely Gordon from San Antonio and C.G. Lancaster from Marshall were commissioned to build the present courthouse which was completed in 1900.

Using variations of a plan used before, Gordon employed the cruciform plan when developing the Harrison County Courthouse. With this plan he won, through competitions, the commissions for several Texas courthouses; among them, the temples for Ellis County in Waxahchie (1884-1896) and Wise County in Decatur (1895-1897), both of which continue to serve the functions of county government today. In 1924 and 1927 additions were made to the east and west wings and at that time the porticos were moved out and the needed additional space was enclosed behind them. Changes in the exterior of the building have been made very carefully in order to preserve the original details.

In 1964, a new brick courthouse was completed across the street from the southwest corner of the public square. As a result the old courthouse has been renovated and completely restored in 2010 to house the Harrison County Historical Museum, on the first and second floors, and government offices on the third floor.

Old Courthouse Photos