(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 11th installment in the Courthouse Challenge series. From now until Thursday 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 Red River County Courthouse, completed in 1885, is the only courthouse ever built at the present site in Clarksville a few blocks off the town square.
W.H. Wilson, a Dallas architect designed the building and bids were accepted in October 1883, according to narrative from the National Register of Historic Places.
P.C. Livingston of Monroe, La., was selected as the contractor.
The Renaissance Revival style courthouse, touting columns and pedestals projecting from the building corners, was built with sandstone out of a quarry in the nearby community of Honey Grove, according to county officials.
It was hauled in by railroad, then loaded on wagons and pulled by mules about six or seven blocks down the street.
The outside walls are sandstone all the way through, about 3 feet thick, and painted plaster. About 90 percent of the courthouse has wooden floors, and most of it is wood on the inside.
The courthouse cost about $55,423 to build at the time, which was $15,000 more than anticipated, according to National Register of Historic Places information. In the early 2000s, about $5 million was spent remodeling it, according to texascourthouses.com
The main feature is the courtroom much one would see in the movie 'To Kill A Mockingbird."
Back then, people came to trials. There was no TV or movies. It will hold about 150 or 160 people at one time. The ceilings are almost 20 foot tall on the bottom floor and 25-30 feet tall in the courtroom. The courtroom still contains 11 of the original jury chairs, the witness stand, jury box and judge's bench just like it was in 1885.
In the early 1980s, the bell tower beams had shifted, and it was leaning north.
For a while, the district judges would not hold court because their offices were under there and they were afraid it would fall, a county official said.
The commissioners decided to install steel beams to support the tower at a cost of $60,00o. The bell tower was later replaced. The old bell tower is on the courthouse lawn so people can look at it.
The courthouse is bordered by Monroe, Madison, Walnut and Cedar streets.
Three courthouses in Red River County preceded this one, but were not built at the present site, according to texascourthouses.com. The first courthouse was built in 1830 at Jonesboro, which was then the county seat. It no longer stands. The county's second courthouse, a frame structure, was completed in 1840 in Madras and no longer stands. The third courthouse, completed in 1850, was a Greek Revival, red brick, two-story structure in Clarksville, Texas. It no longer stands.
(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. There you will find a direct link in one of the main display windows, or you can click on any of the related courthouse stories for links to the Challenge. You will 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.)