Nine historic Texas courthouses receive over $20 million in restoration grants


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The Texas Historical Commission (THC) announced grant recipients for Round XI of the nationally recognized Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP) during its June 16-17 quarterly meeting in Austin. The THC awarded matching grants totaling $20,038,121 to nine counties to aid in preservation of their historic courthouses, including three grants for full restorations.

Callahan, Mason and Taylor counties received construction grants for full restorations.

Kimble, Washington, Wise and Willacy counties received planning grants to be applied toward the production of construction documents for a future application to the THCPP for full restoration of their courthouses.

Duval and Lee counties received emergency grants to address critical issues, including the replacement of an original electrical system and foundation repairs.

"Preserving our Texas courthouses has always been a priority for the THC," said THC Executive Director Mark Wolfe. "Our courthouse grants help counties maintain essential state services and offer centerpieces of history and culture for visitors to enjoy."

The THCPP Round XI grants were made possible through a $25 million appropriation by the 86th Texas Legislature. Over $2.5 million of those funds were distributed last year to counties with unforeseen conditions in the form of supplemental funding.

The THC received applications from 21 counties requesting over $100 million in grants for projects totaling over $175 million. The agency determined grant awards by assessing 22 criteria, including the building's age, endangerment, historical designations, the applicants' proposals, support for the project and a new scoring criterion that assesses an applicant's ability to contribute financially toward the project. This new criterion, county revenue, gives applicants with lower revenues more points than applicants with higher revenues. Emergency grants were based primarily upon the score assigned to the endangerment category.

So far, there have been a total of 103 counties or municipalities that have received grant assistance through the program. There are still 30 applicants awaiting full restoration funding after receiving planning and emergency grants and another 45 program participants that have not yet received any funding at all, with a total outstanding need among participants of over $550 million.

In addition to providing safe and functional buildings, restoration of historic courthouses benefits the state and local economies. Courthouse preservation projects have created more than 11,365 jobs in Texas and generated nearly $650 million in revenue. Restored courthouses reinvigorate historic downtowns and promote heritage tourism, a $7.3 billion industry in Texas.

The program has attracted more than 136 participants and awarded nearly $315 million to fund the full restorations of 73 courthouses and provide smaller grants to assist with emergency and planning projects to another 30 counties.

For more information about the THCPP, visit www.thc.texas.gov/thcpp or contact Program Coordinator Susan Tietz at (512) 463-5860.