When the citizens of New Braunfels celebrated the re-opening of the Comal County Courthouse, they were celebrating more than a building. Texas courthouses are symbols of community pride.
"They made this beautiful significant building because they wanted something that would symbolize everything that was great about their town and their county and this state," Mark Wolfe with the Texas Historical Commission said.
Comal County's nearly $9 million restoration is the latest success story from the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. The program awards grants to communities the help restore these historic buildings.
"Texas has the finest collection of historic and architectural landmarks, the greatest collection of courthouses of any state in the nation," Jim Lindberg with the National Trust for Historic Preservation said.
These architectural treasures aren't museums. They're working government buildings, and in many communities, they're still the hub of civic life.
Courthouses are often a central part of holiday displays and have played major roles in films and television shows.
Like the effort required to build them, community effort is needed to keep these landmarks looking their best.
"It's an asset that the county is proud of, and so our job as caretakers is to keep it in the best shape that we can," Caldwell County Administrator Ron Heggemeier said.
Caldwell County's iconic courthouse will receive a needed refreshing this year and like the courthouse in New Braunfels, it will once again be used to host weekly commissioner’s court meetings.
In addition to being a source of community pride, historic Texas courthouses are also popular tourist destinations. Nearly 140 courthouses are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Learn more about the efforts to protect these landmarks at ILoveTexasCourthouses.org.