Brownsville in Cameron County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
1912 Cameron County Courthouse
This classically styled public building has been central for Cameron County government for nearly a century. Texas and Mexico both claimed this area after 1836. The Texas Legislature created Cameron County in 1848, even before the land was officially made part of Texas and the U.S. by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Named for Scottish-born Ewen Cameron (c. 1811-1843), a soldier killed during the Mier Expedition, the county was one of the largest in the state until additional counties were later carved from its territory.
Santa Rita (5 mi. NW) was the first county seat before voters chose Brownsville in Dec. 1848. For a generation there was no formal courthouse, as county officials conducted business in homes and rented commercial space. Cameron County built its first courthouse in 1882-83 at 1131 E. Jefferson, conducting business there for thirty years before the Rio Grande Masonic Lodge AF&AM No. 81 bought the building.
In October 1911, citizens of the growing county voted 1058-148 in favor of a new $200,000 courthouse. San Antonio architect Atlee B. Ayres (1873-1969) designed this building, as well as a new county
Erected 2000 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13830.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Notable Buildings. A significant historical year for this entry is 1912.
Location. 25° 54.261′ N, 97° 29.712′ W. Marker is in Brownsville, Texas, in Cameron County. Marker is on East Monroe Street north of East 12th Street, on the left when traveling north. Marker is located on the Cameron County Courthouse grounds, near the Monroe Street entrance. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1150 E Madison St, Brownsville TX 78520, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Campo Santo Viejo (within shouting distance of this marker); Cameron County Courthouse (within shouting Cameron County (within shouting distance of this marker); Field-Pacheco Complex (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Field/Pacheco Complex (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Cameron County Courthouse/Dancy Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Old County Jail / Fernandez Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Jail (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brownsville.
Regarding 1912 Cameron County Courthouse. National Register of Historic Places (1980), Recorded Texas Historic Landmark (2000)
Also see . . .
1. Cameron County Courthouse. Texas Historical Commission website entry:
The 1912 Cameron County Courthouse is the county’s second courthouse. The large brick and terra cotta building constructed in the late classical revival style is noted for its academic architectural detailing and striking interior. It has a three-story rotunda width art-glass dome plastic- relief ornament and lavish interior ornamentation reminiscent of that used by Louis Sullivan and the Chicago School. The building’s main distinction, however, is that it was designed by Atlee B. (Submitted on May 20, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Cameron County Courthouse(s), Brownsville, Texas. 254 Texas Courthouses website entry:
This link presents numerous historical and current photographs of all three Cameron County Courthouses, (1883, 1912 and 1978), including detailed exterior and excellent interior photographs from this 1912 courthouse. (Submitted on May 28, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. Atlee Bernard Ayres. Handbook of Texas website entry
In 1915 Ayres was state architect of Texas, a position that allowed him to design the Blind Institute, the Texas State Office Building, and other important buildings. On the University of Texas campus he designed Carothers Dormitory and the original Pharmacy Building. He drew plans for courthouses in Kingsville, Alice, Refugio, Del Rio, and Brownsville. He was a charter member of the Texas Society of Architects and was one of three architects instrumental in securing passage of state legislation in 1937 for the licensing of architects to practice. He received license number 3. Ayres was still practicing architecture when he died at the age of ninety-six in San Antonio. (Submitted on June 28, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 5, 2021. It was originally submitted on May 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 246 times since then and 28 times this year. Last updated on June 11, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on May 20, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.