BALLINGER - The Runnels County Courthouse looks better than it has in years thanks to the completion of the courthouse cleaning and preservation project that has been ongoing since January.

BALLINGER - The Runnels County Courthouse looks better than it has in years thanks to the completion of the courthouse cleaning and preservation project that has been ongoing since January.

Runnels County Judge Barry Hilliard said he signed off on the last check for the repair on Monday and the final payment was expected to be approved at the Commissioners Court meeting Tuesday.

“I haven’t heard anything but great comments on the courthouse,” Hilliard said Monday. “I haven’t heard a bad word about it - everyone is bragging on how nice it looks.”

On Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, commissioners awarded the bid to re-point the courthouse to Frontier Waterproofing, Inc. of Denton for $169,000. The county originally bid the project for the first time about three months ago, but the bids came in at over $300,000.

Hilliard said the decision was made to reach out to potential bidders in Fort Worth, Abilene and San Angelo. A total of six bids were received and in November, commissioners approved the Frontier bid.

During the project, Frontier, which has worked closely on other courthouse projects with the Texas Historical Commission, re-pointed the stones, (which includes replace the mortar between the stones), cleaned the stones and repaired stucco around the windows.

“We saved about $140,000 on this,” Hilliard said.

Hilliard said that the county had budgeted $240,000 for the project and that the savings allowed for the repair of the courthouse annex and the Runnels County Sheriff’s Office.

Tom Gosup was hired as the project manager and worked with Frontier on the project.

The Runnels County Courthouse was built for $30,000 in 1889 and at the time, had a sloped roof and a clock tower. This was removed during renovations in 1941 and the ornamental roofline of the courthouse was replaced with a flat roof. Other renovations were made in 1953 to the courthouse grounds.

According to Texas Escapes, the courthouse was constructed in Ballinger between 1888 and 1889 in the center of a two-block square set aside by the Santa Fe Railroad and remains one of the largest courthouse squares in Texas.

’The courthouse was designed by Houston architect Eugene T. Heiner and built by contractor Tom Lovell. The Second Empire style building, with Italianate influences, utilized local stone in its construction and was accented with sheet metal work and Mansard roofs. The design mimicked other courthouses designed by Heiner at the time, most notably the 1888 Falls County courthouse, the 1888 Austin County courthouse (both no longer standing) and the 1889 Wharton County courthouse (still in use and restored to its original condition.)

In 1941 the courthouse underwent an extensive remodeling under the direction of architect Roy Lane of Dallas and contractor Oscar Rose. Two-story wings were built onto the east and west ends of the building with matching stone and the original stone was sandblasted to blend in with the new wings. The wood framed roof and central cupola were removed and replaced with a flat, steel roof. The interior of the courthouse was renovated at this time as well, including the dropping of the ceiling in the district courtroom. Despite the changes, much of the historic fabric of the building is still intact and the courthouse remains an important focal point of the community.