Weatherford Democrat

March 20, 2013

County readies courthouse for upcoming tours


Weatherford Democrat

— Motorists and residents traveling through downtown Weatherford have likely seen the recent flurry of activity at the Parker County Courthouse.

Parker County’s Building and Grounds crew has been busy doing an annual spring cleaning.

“April is County Government Month and one of the events we have planned is tours of this magnificent building,” Parker County Judge Mark Riley said. “We have planned this for April 27, to coincide with the Weatherford Blooms Festival that will occupy the four courthouse parking lots.”

Tours will start promptly at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. In addition special group tours of 10 or more people can be arranged by calling Joel Kertok at the County Judge’s Office, (817) 598-6166.

Parker County’s historic courthouse is the county’s fourth actual courthouse, with the first one being located north of the current location consisting of a one story; one-room rough, undressed pine lumber building.

The second and third courthouses were destroyed by fire in 1874 and 1884, making way for the current courthouse.

On June 9, 1884, the contract for today’s courthouse was awarded to James Milliken and Co. for the price of $55,555.55.

Architect W.C. Dodson designed the current courthouse with an architectural style known as Second Empire. Its construction was completed in 1886.

“In 2002 we started a historic restoration of this incredible building, that I like to call the crown jewel of the square,” Riley said. “We received a grant through the Historic Courthouse Preservation Grant, which was established in the late 1990s, by then Gov. George W. Bush.”

The $3.6 million grant helped Judge Riley and the county restore the building’s interior back to its original configuration and finishes, while keeping it a functional courthouse.

Coming in under budget, the restoration was completed in the spring of 2004. The courthouse is the location for Parker County Commissioners Court meetings and is home to the County Judge’s Office, County Court-at-Law 2 and a division of the County Clerk’s Office.

“This building is such a rich part of the history of our county,” Riley said. “It is the people’s building and I love the opportunity to show it off to our residents and visitors.”

Riley said he and his staff regularly gives tours to people who stop in for a visit.

“Sometimes while driving by the courthouse on a weekend I will see people out taking pictures or looking around the outside of the courthouse,” he said. “It is a joy for me to park and go introduce myself to them and offer them a tour of the inside. It is just an honor to work here and a privilege to share with others.”

For more information on tours, contact Riley’s Project Coordinator and Public Information Officer Joel Kertok at 817-598-6166.

No outside food or drinks are allowed in the building.