Kenedy County Courthouse of 1918
Henry T. Phelps, one of Texas’ most prolific courthouse designers, was selected to create a new structure in Sarita in 1916. Phelps, who ultimately designed 15 courthouses in a variety of styles, selected the rather simple Classical Revival style for the building. The brick and cast stone landmark was constructed only a few miles from the Gulf Coast. This extreme marine environment, in addition to storm impacts, created a harsh environment for the building materials. Additionally, the hot and humid environment also created a perennial interior air quality problem, including mold concerns in some areas of the building.
In 2007, Kenedy County retained Lord, Aeck & Sargent (formerly TWC Architects) to conduct a courthouse master plan. Based on the findings of the plan, the County elected to pursue a full site and building restoration. Additionally, an existing county building first had to be renovated to accommodate short-term relocation of the courthouse operations and subsequently permanent annex functions.
The courthouse restoration involved extensive masonry work including full removal of the entire brick veneer, which had been stuccoed and painted over. The concrete frame was repaired and new steel lintels were installed at all masonry lintel locations. Because of the corrosive coastal environment, the historic brick ties had all corroded away. All new stainless steel brick ties were installed prior to re-cladding the entire courthouse with new historic-style brick. Three different Acme Brick plants were enlisted to provide the historically-appropriate color variation of the veneer. Extensive wood window restoration was preformed, along with fabrication of new historically-appropriate steel windows. At the interior, all new MEP systems were installed, including state-of-the-art warm and moist condition design implemented with high efficiency performance. All historic paint colors, stained finishes, and historic carpets were restored and sensitively integrated into contemporary county government functions and operations. The stately district courtroom was fully restored, while providing new court support and security systems.
The restored courthouse was selected for a quarterly Texas Historical Commission leadership lecture and tour led by the Principal-in-Charge, Kim A. Williams, AIA.
2012 Brick in Architecture, Gold Award in Municipal/Government Category