Ellis County Courthouse, Waxahachie
This is considered by many to be the finest courthouse in the state. Considering that there are well over 200 counties here, that is quite a remarkable accomplishment. This 1895 courthouse is made of a combination of granite and sandstone, which provides a colorful appearance to the structure. It was designed by J Reily Gordon, who designed several courthouses in the state. The style is Romanesque Revival, which is appealing to many fans of architecture. A nine story clock tower dominates the courthouse. A closer look at the building will reveal several details, some of which are legends in their own right. Look carefully for the gargoyle faces at the porches. There are also eagles perched on the roof. The courthouse is of course the center of the Ellis County Courthouse Historic District, which features a very attractive town square full of shops, places to eat, historic buildings, and a hotel.
This imposing Romanesque style structure was completed in 1897 by architect James Riely Gordon. It's said to be "one of the most beautiful and unusal courthouses in Texas" (exerpted from the Ellis County Museum brochure).
My favorite feature of the building is an impressive clock tower, whose mechanical parts faithfully continue to mark the time. It seems to sit loftily above the street, where it can be viewed from some distance away. It's now operated by electricity.
Burnet County red and pink granite on the main structure and Pecos red sandstone trimming the windows and doorways came from a quarry at Barstow, Texas. Interesting faces are carved at four entrances into the courthouse, which have their root in local legend.
Wanting to learn more about this legend, I checked the Ellis County website for more of the story. Supposedly one of the workmen who executed the carvings fell in love with the daughter of the proprietor of a local boarding house. Sadly, it was unrequited love. Out of sorrow then revenge he incorporated unflattering faces of his ladylove on the building.
Pick up the Downtown Walking Tour brochure at the Ellis County Museum on S. College street--see tips.
As you wind your way around the courthouse, you'll see this statue marking the contributions of one man and the heroics of many.
This distinguished gentleman is Richard Ellis, President of the Independence Convention of 1836, which marked the declaration of Texas in the quest for independence from Mexico at Washington on the Brazos. This county was named in honor of Ellis's efforts.
The monument was erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy and dedicated on November 2, 1912. It is a memorial celebrating '...the dead and living of Ellis County, who wore the gray. Banners may be furled, but heroism lives forever--1861-1865." This solemn reminder of the fallen sits outside the Ellis County Courthouse, encircled by a lovely display of flowers.
There have been four different courthouses on this since the Shawnee Trail in 1849. This particular courthouse is one of the most recognised in the State. Built in 1896 at the astronomical cost of $150,000. It has been made famous as a backdrop for films such as "Places in the Heart" and "Bonnie and Clyde".