(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the ninth installment in the Courthouse Challenge series. From now until Dec. 20 you can vote on the best looking courthouse in the region online at texarkanagazette.com. This Challenge is not paywall protected. Subscribers and non-subscribers can go to the polling page and vote.)
The Bowie County Courthouse is in New Boston, not to be confused with Boston or Old Boston, both of which are located just a few miles away and each, in turn, was the county seat before New Boston had the privilege.
Completed in 1985, the courthouse was designed in the Moderne style by the architectural firm of Thomas-Emberton Associates, Inc., and built by contractor T. A. Pritchard Co. It is composed primarily of concrete, with an abundance of large windows with vertical faux louvers on all sides, an imposing two-story atrium at the main entrance, and marble flooring.
A wide, floating staircase leads to a floating landing that divides into more stairs going left and right to the offices and courtrooms on the second floor. Over the landing is the large, burnished metal county seal, more than six feet in diameter, on a contrasting background of white marble panels with gray stippling.
Outside, it boasts a large front plaza with plenty of parking and large concrete pillars across the front of the building and along both sides to support the roof overhang. In front of the courthouse, a small decorative gravel courtyard with trimmed hedges surrounds a bronze statue of James Bowie, the county's namesake, who stands watchfully atop a pedestal with a Bowie knife in one hand and his long rifle in the other.
According to TexasCourtHouses.com, the first Bowie County Courthouse was built in 1841 in Boston, named for the first storekeeper in the area, W.J. Boston. Boston was located at what is now the intersection of Highway 8 and Farm to Market Road 2149. The arrival of the railroad, four miles north of Boston created the town of New Boston, centered around the intersection of U.S. Highway 82 and North West Street.
In the mid-1880s the citizens of Texarkana successfully lobbied to move the county seat to Texarkana, but state legislation moved it back to Boston five years later, halfway between the two Bostons, at the intersection of S. McCoy Boulevard (Highway 8) and W. Walters Boulevard (FM 1840). That Boston, later incorporated into New Boston, is the actual county seat for Bowie County.
The next courthouse and jail, designed by architects Sonnefield, Emmins & Albright, was built in 1891 and was used until the existing courthouse was completed in 1985. Two years later it burned down, leaving only the current courthouse which is further north, facing Iz-30, at 710 James Bowie Drive.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The Texarkana Gazette and texarkanagazette.com will present one courthouse a day (14 in all) until Dec. 18. At our website you can vote on the best looking courthouse. You can also find links to the polling site from our Facebook page, and some of you may find links through Breaking News or Updates we send out through email. The system that manages the Challenge will accept one vote per computer or mobile device. The top three vote-getters, in reverse order, will be featured in articles from Dec. 28 to Dec. 30. A week before this announcement three other courthouses will be featured, notable buildings that are either outside this region, or are no longer active county seats. These are not part of the Courthouse Challenge, but we think you will find them interesting. All the courthouses in the Challenge can be seen at the online polling site.)