Shackelford County Courthouse

Shackelford County Courthouse

1st Courthouse

Building Completion Date: 1875
County Seat: Albany
Present Status: Gone
Building Materials/Description: Vernacular, picket walls, $800

2nd Courthouse

Building Completion Date: 1883
County Seat: Albany
Present Status: Existing. Active.
Architect: James E. Flanders
Architectural Style: Second Empire
General Contractor: C. Harris & Co.(defaulted), then Edgar Rye
Building Materials/Description: Native limestone, $49,433.75

National Register Narrative

1. The Shackelford County Courthouse, the central building of the historic district, is in the Victorian Second Empire style but of a design superior to most of its contemporaries in that its mass and proportions are better. The architect, J. E. Flanders of Dallas, achieved this by a more studied relationship of voids to solids, eschewing the highly elongated windows common to the style and avoiding the abundance of extraneous ornamentation usually appended to structures of the period. Without loss of any of the flavor of the Victorian, a feeling of massive solidity has been gained from the sheer size of the blocks of stone; those of the trim are skillfully dressed to give an interesting contrast to the rough-faced ashlar of the walls.

The major facades on the north and south are of five part composition with the minor ones on the east and west in three parts. The corner compartments project in both directions and the three exterior corners of each have finely dressed quoins through the entire three stories. Dressed stringcourses encircle the building at the level of the first floor and at the levels of the sills of the windows of the second and third story. Several vermiculated stones give variety to the doorways.

The window heads of the second and third stories are segmental arches, each with a keystone of normal proportions and a single wide voussoir on each side. The heads of the first-story windows are actually curved lintels of limestone with vee-grooves encased to simulate the voussoirs of segmental arches. Five handsome chimneys of dressed stone form the outlets for the flues of the dozen or so stoves, now long gone, required to heat the building. Other examples of the excellent stone cutting which should not be overlooked are the huge splash blocks.

The four corner compartments have hipped roofs with each eave line broken by a small gable containing a trihedron. The wide overhang of the cornice is supported by large consoles with modillions in series between them. Each section of roof is surmounted by a small catwalk surrounded by an ornamental iron fence. A similar but higher iron railing serves the walkway around the base of the clock tower. The tower has a steep pyramidal roof. The present roof covering of the building is copper.
2. The Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church is a simple rectangular building of rough-faced local limestone, light buff in color. The entrance is by way of a corner tower, stone up to the sills of the belfry openings which are in pairs of lancets on each of the four sides; the upper structure of the belfry is of wood, faced with a pattern of wooden shingles in the Victorian manner. The windows of the building have pointed arches while those of the two entrance doors are round.

The original roof was unusual in that it was gabled at the west facade but hipped at the east end. In the remodeling of 1954-1955, the east gable was constructed and the chimney, off axis, was taken down to the height of the old eaves, warped northward to the axis of the building and built to extend above the roof ridge, supported by a stone arch on corbels surrounding a small round window containing new stained glass. The lunettes in the roof are original but the stained glass in them dates from the remodeling. All other stained glass is original.

The roof covering was of wood shingles and the same material was used for the remodeled roof although the eaves trough with cornice was then changed to lead-coated-copper. Several years later the shingles were replaced by lead- coated copper with standing seams. The belfry roof is pyramidal of steep pitch, with an ornamental metal cross which is also cruciform in plan so that it forms a cross in north, south, east and west elevations. The west facade has an ornamental Celtic cross, the foot of which extends through the junction of the raking cornices. Both crosses date from the first construction. The bell, hung in 1898, has both a clapper for ringing and a striker for tolling. It is still tolled for funerals.

Originally the church had an Akron plan with sloping wooden floor. In the remodeling, the plan was changed to one with a center aisle on axis and a flat floor of stone and a raised chancel replaced the old.

3. Numbers 204 and 206 S. Main Street should be considered as a single building as the two are integrated architecturally. Intermediate piers which supported the series of huge stone lintels have given place to beams introduced to span the openings beneath the lintels which are still in place as are the pilasters with which the three walls are faced. A parapet wall with projecting base course and coping course, all of rough-face ashlar, surmount the dressed lintels. The parapet is divided by verticals in line with the pilasters.

4. Number 220 S. Main Street is a one-story stone building of simple construction and details. Large stone lintels span the three openings of the facade. The bearing walls and two intermediate piers are faced with pilasters which have a cyma reverse in the capitals; the pilasters are set on pedestals. There is a stone parapet divided by projections in line with the pilasters, as in 204 and 206 Main. All the stonework has a coating of stucco.

5. Number 224 S. Main Street is a two-story stone building. At street level are the usual three openings bridged by large stone lintels but this is the only extant example in Albany where the pilasters are repeated in the second story. Those of the first story have a pedestal below the pilaster base, and the capitals of both contain an ovolo molding. The original panels below the windows and in the reveals of the door and window jambs and heads have been retained. The second-story windows have segmental arches of a keystone and two wide voussoirs; imposts are long, dressed verticals.

6. Number 226 S. Main Street is another two-story stone building of the same vintage as 224. There are three openings in the first floor facade with stone lintels carried on the walls and two piers all of which are faced with integral pilasters having incise splayed joints and cavetto capitals. There is a molded stone course above the lintels. The second story has quoins but the returns are visible only on the south side where there is an exterior cast-iron stairway. The roughness of the returns contrast with the finely dressed front faces.

The three windows of the second floor have sills of dressed stone. Cornices above the windows are of surprising delicacy; they have rudimentary consoles at each end. The nine-light sashes were substituted for the original ones with larger panes about 1930. An imposing sheet metal cornice was replaced by a flat parapet of ugly yellow brick in the 1960s. At the same time, the lower part of the side openings filled with yellow brick bearing no relation to the architecture of the building. The paneling in all the heads and the door jambs is intact.

7. Numbers 228 and 232 S. Main Street are believed to have been one construction. The paneling beneath the glass of the doors and windows of the 228 is in the style of the time. The latch on the right-hand door of 228 is an elegant example of building hardware of the period. Little is left of the old facade of 232 other than a strip of embossed sheet metal which is carried continuously above doors and windows across the entire fronts, of both 228 and 232.

8. While the two parts of the Lynch building are tied together by a continuous stone cornice across the front and identical torus capitals in the pilasters, the facade was designed to give individuality to the two halves. The west half has stone lintels spanning the three openings in the first story and stone lintels in the three windows above. The east side has elliptical arches over its three first- story openings and segmental arches over the second-story windows. Those above and below have in common keystones of normal proportions which extend above the extrados and below the intrudes with a single wide voussoir on either side. There are quoins on the two facade corners, finely dressed in front but with the sides dressed at the corners but becoming rougher as they recede in similar manner to those in 226 S. Main. The corner visible from Main street has been given the same treatment as that in the party wall at the east corner. The reveals of the openings are paneled.

9. Number 304 S. Main Street is a one-story building of red brick the color of Abilene common. The facade is an arcade of five equal openings with round arches. The cornice is made of bricks laid in a decorative three-dimensional pattern containing a course as dentils and, lower, two courses in a kind of billet mold. The plain jambs have a quarter round at the leading edge and the panels below the windows are without molding.

10. Number 316 S. Main Street is a one-story stone building with three facade openings bridged by large stone lintels. The pilaster capitals have a cavetto above a quarter round. A decorated Victorian door pull and escutcheon are not as elaborate as the latch set at 228 S. Main. The paneling in the reveals of the openings and beneath the window is the most developed and quite the handsomest of all the commercial buildings of Albany. The doors also are noteworthy.

11. Number 322 S. Main Street is a free-standing one- story wooden store building. Typically, it has the rectangular false front hiding the gable. The false front is topped by a simple wood cornice. The most notable design features of this structure are the refined cornices above the front openings and the paneling and moldings of the double doors. The upper part of the doors contain glass; above the pane of each door there is a cornice and below it there is a molded base incorporating dentils. A single decorated doorknob remains.

12. The old jail is a simple two-story rectangular structure with a roof with wooden shingles. The massive stones of its rough-faced ashlar and a fenestration which emphasizes the solidity of the walls in contrast to the not very large windows speak security.

13. Number 422 S. Walnut Street is a small rectangular stone cottage with hipped roof and fireplace and chimney at the south end. The windows have four-light sashes. Additions are a room across the front (probably a porch which has been enclosed) and a wooden lean-to across the rear.

14. Number 301 S. Third Street is a one-story wood frame residence with elegant and elaborate Victorian jigsaw scroll ornamentation above porch posts and supporting the porch roof, and in the three gables. There are delicate jigsaw pendants beneath the cornices over the principal windows which are tall with two-light sashes and sills near the floor line.

15. Number 319 S. Walnut is a wooden dwelling of a story and a half with two gables in the facade. There is evidence that the north wing, which is of only one story, was a later addition. Its windows are tall, with sills close to the floor level, and have two light sashes, while those in the story-and-a-half part are not so high and have four- sashes. The corners of the north gable overhang a large bay and there are wooden pendants suspended from the overhang soffits. Turned posts support the roof of the porch which extends across the older part. There is an interesting Victorian screen door at the entrance.

16. The one-story dwelling on S. Walnut and the abandoned railway right-of-way is a rectangular stone structure with hipped roof and a chimney at each side. An unusual feature in a modest dwelling in this locality is the use of quoins at the corners. All the stone has been coated with stucco.

1. Shackelford County Courthouse and Jail, Courthouse Square. (No. 1)
2. The First Shackelford County Jail, Southside of 2nd Street, at the railroad right-of-way. (No. 2)
3. First Christian Church–Corner of Walnut and 2nd Street, east side of Square.
4. Claude Walraven Residence, Walnut Street.
5. Joe Bob Pate Residence, known as the old Caperton House, Walnut Street.
6. Wayne Chapman Residence, old Shield’s Hotel, Walnut Street, 1877 built south section as a hotel by George Shields, added on for a residence about 1900. (No. 15)
7. Dr. Luther Key Office, on Third Street on corner of Walnut and 3rd Street.
8. T. H. Barre House, west side of Walnut Street near Fourth Street. (No. 13)
9. Duffy-Hill House, SE corner of Square, faces 3rd Street, built in 1883 by A. W. Duffy who was Albany’s most successful early contractor and builder. Purchased in 1886 by L. H. Hill, Albany businessman, who made extensive additions to the house where he died in 1932. Restored by the L.A. Banders Estate in 1969 as a residence for Mr. and Mrs. Ed Compton. (No. 14)
10. Roy Matthews House, 3rd Street, Site of Albany’s first hotel, The Barre Hotel, 1875. Destroyed by fire.
11. Old service station, SW corner of Main Street and 3rd Street, facing Main now a gift shop, the area in 1880’s was a skating rink.
12. Pioneer Store, built in 1878 on West side of Main Street, restored in 1972 and operated by the Albany Study Club as a thrift store and Club House. Although it was built as a warehouse for larger stores, the Sanger Brothers of Dallas bought it in 1887 and operated businesses there by leasing until 1906. Since 1887 it has been used as a store, principally a grocery store until 1930’s. Later an antique store, the building was in the Wm. Louis Hill family until the Albany Study Club purchased it. (No. 11)
13. Blach Building, built in 1884 by Julius and Simon Blach of Cincinnati, Ohio and Max Blach of Albany, Texas, rancher and businessman. It was the Casino Saloon at first and later a dry goods store. It is now the office and workshop of Joe Blanton Organ business, and has been in the family of L.H. Hill since 1925. West side of Square, South Main Street. (No. 10)
14. Masonic Hall and H.R. Stasney offices, South Main Street. Built in 1884 by Charles Hartfield, restaurant owner, finished in 1885 by Sam Webb, N.H. Burns, and Max Blach after Hartfield’s death. Long used for a dry goods establishment, The Star Store, the front was radically altered by brick in the early 1950s by the Albany Masonic Lodge.
15. Clear Fork Motor Company, South Main Street.
16. E.E. Whitney Building, South Main Street, built as a one story rock building in early 1880s burned about 1893, rebuilt as one-story rock in 1894, and remodeled as two story building by local merchant, Whitney, in 1926.
17. Albany Auto Supply, South Main Street, built 1894, first used as George’s Drug Store and the Albany Post Office after rebuilding because of fire. Albany’s first brick business. (No. 9)
18. Thomas Furniture Company, South Main Street, Site of Frank Conrad Store, 1881, a Fort Griffin merchant who moved his General Merchandise Store to Albany because of the railroad’s arrival. Store burned in 1893 and was rebuilt as a stone building. Front modified with brick by Joe Castleberry in 1950s.
19. Sedwick Buildings, facing South Main Street at 2nd Street corner. Built in 1884 for a Saloon and Feed Store by J.L. Buford. Contractors were Bialluch and Wechesser. Used later as a drug store and grocery store. Purchased by John F. Sedwick and today used as a furniture storeroom and Shoe Repair Shop. A frame building. (No. 7)
20. West Texas Utilities Building, South Main Street, North of Square.
21. Albany City Hall, South Main Street, north of Square built in 1883 for the First National Bank. Now the city offices. (No. 6)
22. Bill Hill Building, South Main Street, North of Square, built in 1884, by H.C. Jacobs, father of Albany, and J.L. Fisher, early County Judge, as their land agents office and from 1902-13 was the Albany National Bank Building. It is in excellent condition and is used as a dance studio upstairs and offices downstairs. Bill Hill is the grandson of L.H. Hill. (No. 5)
23. The City Grocery, South Main Street, north of Square, built in 1884 by workman and stone cutter, Patrick McDonald who also constructed the Jacobs-Fisher-Hill Building. Built for a drugstore, it has been a grocery store for 30 years. (No. 4)
24. Carter King Buildings, South Main Street, north of Square, built before 1900, a series of 6 businesses, a Bit business, a beauty shop, and abstract office, two barber shops, and a magazine publishing office. With some repairs, this building could be added later. The building fits in well with the district’s appearance and architecture, although at present the run-down condition does not warrant this. Probably built after 1885 and before 1900.
25. Sanders Drug Store Building, South Main Street, north of Square, built by D.A. Nance, early store keeper and rancher at Fort Griffin and Eli Meyer, butcher and rancher in 1900. Purchased in 1907 by John F. Sedwick for a Dry Goods store, formerly Sanders Drug Store. L.A. Sanders purchased the `20s drug fixtures, still used today. (No. 3)
26. First National Bank Building, corner of South Main Street and 1st Street, west side, now in the process of restoration efforts which include building to the south. Built in 1913. Restoration and rebuilding efforts will have `20s look.
27. Lynch Building, corner of 2nd Street and South Main Street, built by W.H. Miller and Masonic Lodge east section in 1878 and west section for Knights of Pythias and Live and Let Live Drug Store by J.C. Lynch in 1881. Has housed nearly every phase of Albany business life from stores to offices, including lodges, an artist studio, Jaycee Hall, and Newspaper offices. Now is a dentist office, a savings and loan office, an independent oilman’s office, and an investor’s office. Recently restored, in 1974 and 1975. (No. 8)
28. Small garage houses Fandangle Train, 2nd Street.
29. Lowe Electric Shop, an old garage building is electric shop for oil field work, 2nd Street.
30. Bill Goins TV repair shop, 2nd Street.
31. American Legion Hall, corner of 2nd Street and Walnut Street.
32. George Wilhelm House, built in 1879 as a residence, Walnut Street. (No. 16)
33. Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church, corner of 2nd Street and South Jacobs Street, built 1898, the pride of Albany’s religious community for its architectural beauty inside and out. (No. 2)
34. Albany Theater, Mission Revival Style (1920’s); vacant, Main Street.

The first white settlers came to Shackelford County when it was created in 1858 from Bosque Co. and named for Dr. John J. Shackelford, hero of Goliad. With the advent of the Civil War these people were forced to band together in family forts as protection from the Indians. After the war the federal government established in 1867 a military post called Fort Griffin in the northern sector of the county on the Clear Fork of the Brazos River, signaling the first rush of pioneers. Shackelford County was attached to Palo Pinto Co. in 1860, later Jack Co., and was organized in 1874.

Albany was located south of Ft. Griffin in the center of the county and was chosen county seat over Griffin in a hotly contested race. William Kirkland, County Surveyor, and H. C. Jacobs, County Sheriff, platted the town of Albany on 160 acres that Jacobs was homesteading. As a result Jacobs donated land to the county for the courthouse, streets and alleys, and some residence and business acreage. W. R. Cruger soon replaced Kirkland and sold lots on behalf of the county, selecting the name Albany for his old home, Albany, Georgia.

The original courthouse was built in 1875 of picket construction, and it sat in the middle of a square 420′ x 420′. It was removed from the site in 1883 by Charles Hartfield, a restaurant owner, to use as rooms for workers building the rock courthouse (1883-84) which stands today. Courthouse offices were temporarily located in the upper floor of a two-story stone building known as the Ballow- Keener Building on the NE corner of the square while the new courthouse was being constructed. The magnificent Victorian Courthouse was designed by Dallas Architect J. E. Flanders and was built by a crew of workmen headed by Edgar Rye and later, J. T. Camp. The exterior of the building is in perfect condition.

Around the square, lots of twenty five feet wide were laid out, sixteen on each side and business houses steadily took their place. Blocks were in a grid pattern with the Courthouse Square in the center. The first structures, built in the years 1875-1880 were predominately of frame construction. Of these two remain on the courthouse square. The old Shields Hotel, built in 1877, on the east side of the square was incorporated in a residence about 1900 and stands today.(no. 15) On the west side a small frame building built in 1878 by merchant T. E. Jackson as a warehouse for his larger store next door, stands yet and has been recently restored. From 1880-87 Sanger Bros. of Dallas owned and operated the building for merchandising.(No. 11) From this period, four rock structures remain.(nos. 8, 12, 13, 16) The east half of the Lynch Building was built by W. H. Mill for a general merchandise store, and the upper floor was constructed by the Masonic Lodge in 1878.(no. 8, recently restored.) In 1877 the county began to erect its first county jail, a two-story building of stone which bears the carved initials of each stone mason. Used until 1929, the building housed memorabilia and papers of the late Robert E. Nail (1940-1968), local playwright and author of the Fort Griffin Fandangle, Albany historical pageant.(no. 12) The other structures of this era were built as residences and still are used as such. George Wilhelm erected his residence in 1879 (no. 16) and was an early businessman in Albany, operating a store and a saloon on the east side of square. This rock home was used as Albany’s first public school, 1883. The T. H. Barre House (no. 1) was built by 1879 and used as a private school house in 1880. Barre ran the first hotel in Albany in

1875 and gave the land for the present city cemetery.

Fort Griffin’s businesses remained there until the Texas Central Railroad arrived at Albany in 1881. The military abandoned the Fort that year, and the town folded with many businessmen moving to the county seat. Remaining for 19 years as terminus of the Texas Central, Albany experienced accelerated building during this time. By 1881 Shackelford County rancher, J. C. Lynch had constructed the west section of the two-story, rock Lynch Building for the “Live and Let Live Drug Store”. He bought the entire building at that time. In 1883 A. W. Duffy who built two of Albany’s first churches and its first school along with many residences, erected on the SE corner of the square a home for himself. Recently restored (no. 14) the lovely Victorian home for 46 hears was the residence of L. H. Hill, real estate wizard of West Texas. The First National Bank incorporated in 1883 and built a two-story rock structure (no. 6), long the bank, but later city hall.

In 1884 several more rock business houses were erected. Henry Jacobs and J. L. Fisher, County Judge, as partners in selling real estate, built a handsome two-story building, (no. 5) totally unspoiled today. From 1902-13 the Albany National Bank was located here. Max Blach, local rancher and businessman, erected a beautiful rock building, used as a saloon in 1884.(no. 10) An Irish stonecutter, Patrick McDonald, built the Jacobs-Fisher Building, cut and laid the courthouse steps, winning the praise of Flanders and in 1884 built his own one-story rock structure.(no. 4) Also, built in 1884 by Bialluch and Weckesser, is a three section frame structure which housed the Biggs Saloon and the Jacobs and McComb Feed Store on the corner of the NW area facing Main Street (No. 7)

After devastating fires, the 1890s brought Albany’s first brick business house to life as a drug store. It was built about 1894 (No. 9) into the burned rock walls of the thriving N. H. Burns Hardware Store of the ’80s. Burns and Max Blach had organized Albany’s first Water Company in 1883. The Matthews Memorial Presbyterian Church was build in 1882. With its lovely stone floors, stained windows, and exceptional pipe organ, religious shelter through current times has been given to persons from across the Unite States visiting Albany and members of the J. B. Matthews family for whom the church was named.(no. 2) The Sanders Drug Store Building originally was used as a dry goods and grocery store in 1900 and was built by D. A. Nance and Eli Meyer, pioneers and early ranchers. Inside the fixtures and interior reflect a mint 1920’s drug establishment (No. 3) owned by the John F. Sedwick family who purchased the building in 1907.

Few unsightly intrusions are evidenced in the district. The undescribed business buildings are either equally as old with slightly modified store fronts or constitute a unaltered line of 1920’s structures. Individual efforts have restored portions of the Shackelford County Courthouse Historic District. A cooperative movement by business owners has initiated a trend toward revitalization of the area, following a restoration study and proposal by the Texas Historical Commission. The charm of the Northwest Texas Frontier is still much in evidence.

Every summer the citizenry of Albany, Texas give an historical presentation commemorating the story of the land and its people, The Fort Griffin Fandangle. Albany residents took their show to the LBJ Ranch when President Johnson entertained the OAS Ambassadors, and this year, 1976, they will present a benefit show at the LBJ Ranch for the grove of trees commemorating President Lyndon Johnson in Washington, D.C. The small population of 1,978 in Albany, Texas remembers its heritage. The Shackelford County Courthouse Historic District represents the late 19th and early 20th century commercial and residential development of a frontier west Texas community. Evident in the district are several buildings which comprise a solid grouping of Victorian structures as a visual reminder of the town’s historical significance.


Posted on

July 18, 2017