Presidio County Courthouse

Marfa, Texas | C.1887

Photo Credit: Michelle Nash

Standing tall among flat plains in Marfa, Texas, the Presidio County Courthouse is a lovely pop of pink within the rugged desert terrain of West Texas. Built in 1887, the Courthouse is constructed in the Second Empire style – a type of architecture that emphasizes design elements popular during the era of the Second French Empire in the mid-19th century.

The city of Marfa was founded in 1881 by the Texas and New Orleans Railroad. Initially designated as a water stop, Marfa was a place where steam engines could stop and replenish water on their routes. Four years later, it graduated to be the county seat of Presidio County.

In 1886, nineteen architects competed to design the Courthouse, but it was San Antonio architect Alfred Giles who would win the bid. Designing the Courthouse for the price of $60,000, Giles modeled the building after the El Paso Courthouse which he had designed the same year. Within a year, the building was constructed and to celebrate its completion, Marfa held a ball on New Year’s Day in 1887.

At the time of its completion, there were no other structures near the Courthouse and the streets of Marfa were still mostly undefined. The Courthouse became a focal point; and to this day, it can be seen from almost anywhere in the town. Made of brick and stone, the Courthouse exterior is fashioned in pink stucco – added in 1929 – and Lady Justice stands atop its central dome.

Presidio County Courthouse continues to serve its function as a center for law and justice. Along with being an operating courthouse, the building has played host to the town’s bicentennial events and has a Junior Historian Museum on the second floor. In 1977, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

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