In time, changes would come that would bring an end to that age of
innocence. Changes would be in store for the courthouse too.
In 1935, efforts to increase the size of the 1888-89 Wharton
County Courthouse resulted in changes that altered the building
dramatically. Elements essential to the Victorian courthouse,
designed by E.T. Heiner, such as its Mansard roofs and clock tower
were removed and replaced with flat roofs.
exterior brick and limestone walls were stuccoed over, making them
match the one-story additions built on the north and south sides
of the building. Also, the ceiling of the centrally located
courtroom, originally two-stories tall, was lowered to provide
additional offices on the third floor.
resulting changes transformed the building into a more moderne
appearance that lacked many of the elements of the original
sorely missed the courthouse bell and the original courthouse
clocks, most likely manufactured by The Seth Thomas Clock Co.
March 8, 1935, in reference to the changes, the Wharton
“It’s not the
same Wharton anymore. The old courthouse clock, the one which told
a different story on each side of the building and none of which
was right, is gone. “Business men who have been accustomed to
going by ‘courthouse time’ have been forced to buy dollar
watches and many a housewife in the city who relied on the old
timepiece has had to purchase an alarm clock.
on the remodeling of the Wharton County court house tore down the
clock tower Monday of this week and it is doubtful if ever there
was anything in Wharton that has been more greatly missed.
“Not that anyone
ever believed that the court house clock was ever right. It was
the sort of clock that gave a different time on every side; but
right or wrong, it was something the people of Wharton grew
accustomed to having; and now that it is gone forever,
Changes also were
in store for the 1888 Wharton County Jail, which also was designed
A 40-foot addition
was built on the Victorian building, and the original cornice
gables and sloping roofs were removed and replaced with a flat
roof. The solid brick walls were stuccoed to match the new
addition, resulting in the more Moderne style we know today.
In 1949, efforts
to further increase the size of the courthouse resulted in
additional one-story wings on the east and west sides, and an
elevator was added.
As a result of the
changes made in 1935 and 1949, the overall appearance of the
courthouse was greatly changed. Instead of being Victorian, with
Mansard roofs and clock tower, it has become more representative
of Art Deco or Moderne Style. And sometimes, it’s just referred
to as denatured.