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Brownsville in Cameron County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
 

1912 Cameron County Courthouse

 
 
1912 Cameron County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 18, 2018
1. 1912 Cameron County Courthouse Marker
Inscription.
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 jail at 1201 E. Van Buren, and both county buildings were completed in 1913. The Classical Revival style rectangular cross axial plan courthouse is three stories with an elevated basement. The
1912 Cameron County Courthouse Marker (<i>tall view</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 18, 2018
2. 1912 Cameron County Courthouse Marker (tall view)
brick exterior features banded ground floor courses, Corinthian columns and pilasters, a dome and a classical parapet with terra cotta trim. The interior is notable for its octagonal rotunda and elaborate art-glass dome. When the county built a new courthouse in 1981, this site remained for county offices and was renamed the Dancy Building for Oscar C. Dancy (1879-1971), who served 48 years as county judge within these walls from 1921-33 and 1935-71.
 
Erected 2000 by Texas Historical Commission. (Marker Number 13830.)
 
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. Touch for map. Marker is located on the Cameron County Courthouse grounds, near the Monroe Street entrance. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1150 E Madison St, Brownsville TX 78520, United States of America.
 
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 (within shouting distance of this marker); Old Cameron County Courthouse/Dancy Building (within shouting distance of this marker); Old County Jail / Fernandez Building
1912 Cameron County Courthouse (<i>marker visible near sidewalk at left</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 18, 2018
3. 1912 Cameron County Courthouse (marker visible near sidewalk at left)
(about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Old Jail (about 300 feet away); La Madrileña (about 500 feet away); 1882 Cameron County Courthouse (about 500 feet away); Cameron County Courthouse of 1883-1914 (about 500 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 - Brownsville. Between 1995 and 2000, the building was vacated and a major exterior restoration was executed. Known locally as the Dancy Building after Judge Oscar Dancy, the building now houses administrative functions of the county government including the judge’s office, commissioners court, and the offices of treasurer and auditor. The project included restoration of the double height district courtroom, the stained glass rotunda and the ornamental plaster. (Submitted on May 20, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. Cameron County Courthouse. 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
Captain Ewen Cameron Memorial Plaque (<i>located within octagonal rotunda inside courthouse</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 18, 2018
4. Captain Ewen Cameron Memorial Plaque (located within octagonal rotunda inside courthouse)

Lest we forget
this tribute to
Captain Ewen Cameron
is placed here

Born in the highlands of Scotland in 1811,
he was killed in Mexico April 25, 1843.

A soldier of
The Republic of Texas,
He died with
his face to the foe.

”Cowards die many times before their death,
the valiant never taste of death but once.”
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. Ayres, one of Texas’ most eminent architects. (Submitted on May 20, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Cameron County Courthouse(s), Brownsville, Texas. 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.) 

4. Atlee Bernard Ayres. 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
Interior octagonal rotunda and elaborate art-glass dome image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 18, 2018
5. Interior octagonal rotunda and elaborate art-glass dome
ninety-six in San Antonio. (Submitted on June 28, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. Notable Buildings
 
Cameron County Courthouse National Register of Historic Places Plaque image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, May 18, 2018
6. Cameron County Courthouse National Register of Historic Places Plaque
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 29, 2018. This page originally submitted on May 19, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 119 times since then. 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.
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