Sitting in the heart of downtown Gatesville is the historic Coryell County Courthouse, built in 1897-98, that is still in use today. Recognized as one of the most beautiful courthouses buildings in the state of Texas, it is not unusual to see visitors taking pictures of the stately structure.
Both the district court and the county court-at-law are located in the historical building, along with support offices.
The streets around the courthouse square are blocked off at various times a year for festivals and activities, such as the Boozar. The Veterans Plaza on the courthouse lawn serves as the backdrop for several patriotic gatherings every year.
On Feb 11, 1897, county commissioners voted to construct a new courthouse at its present location, Tom Lovell of Denton was awarded the construction contract and W.D. Dodson of Waco was chosen as the architect.
On Oct 2, 1907, a ceremony was conducted by Gatesville Masonic Lodge No. 197 A.F. & A.M. to lay the cornerstone for the courthouse and the building was completed almost one year later. The total project cost the county just over $70,000. The hills surrounding Gatesville supplied much of the limestone used in the construction. Stones were cut and numbered for placement at quarries in the area and hauled in wagons to the courthouse. Four statues (two of Liberty and two of Justice) adorn the top of the building and an eagle in flight tops the clock tower.
The building has undergone several improvements over the years while the basic structure has remained the same. The modern conveniences that have been added include indoor restrooms, air conditioning, and an elevator.
In 1962-63, terrazzo floors in the halls and the rotunda of the main floor were installed and renovation to the basement in 1974 provided space for the tax office. The tax office, juvenile probation, and district attorney were moved to a new location in 1997, across the street from the courthouse in the former Powell Supply building that was purchased and renovated for county offices. The vacated space in the courthouse was renovated for the commissioners’ courtroom and the county clerk. The commissioners’ courtroom was later moved to the South 7th Street annex, then was moved to the 800 block of Leon Street after the county purchased a former bank building.
In 1986, a $1-million restoration project was authorized by commissioners and an historical commission was appointed to help with the project, which was completed two years later. Replacing the eagle and two statues that had been missing from the roof for many years were included in the restoration. The false ceiling in the district courtroom was removed, new electrical wiring, plumbing and central air and heat were installed. An elevator and a new handicap entrance were also installed.
The historic courthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places held a celebration in 1998, to commemorate the 100th annivarsary fo the completion. A Texas Historical Marker can be found on the lawn.