History of the Old Blanco County Courthouse

Built during 1885-1886 and designed by well-known Austin architect Frederick Ernst Ruffini, the courthouse was accepted for use by Blanco County on January 29, 1886. The grand new courthouse in Blanco was only used by the county for a scant four years as an election in 1890 moved the county seat to Johnson City. The abandoned Courthouse continued to serve the community well in a multitude of ways for the next eighty years.

 

As an office building, she housed real estate brokers, lawyers, doctors, dentists, and the Justice of the Peace. As a school she served children from 1893 until 1901 following a fire which destroyed the local high school. Once again in 1919 when the two story school building was condemned as unsafe, she housed Blanco students. Beginning in 1906 her vaults, once used by county tax collectors, were utilized by the Blanco National Bank. Later she became the site of the Federal Farm Loan Bank. As a community meeting place she served as the Farmers' Union Hall, the Town Hall, theater, opera house, library and even the fair grounds. She became the second home of the locally published Blanco County News, which is still serving the community. In her most well known role she served from 1937 to 1961 as a general hospital. Between 1971 and 1973 the building was the Blanco Museum of the Early West and became a recorded Texas Historic Landmark. Briefly she was a restaurant - barbecue of course - but this service was short lived.

 

The Grand Old Building eventually fell into a state of disrepair and was for sale for a number of years. An ardent admirer who envisioned the faded beauty restored to her former grandeur as his private residence, bought the building in 1986. His plan included dismantling the old building and moving her stone by stone to his ranch.

 

What ordinarily would have been an inconspicuous notice in the Blanco County News in June of 1986 proved to be the first trickle of a tidal wave voicing public indignation. Within days local citizens gathered to plot their strategy. Thus the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society was born and a formal petition was drawn up opposing the owner's plan to remove the Old Courthouse from her home on the square.

 

In July, U.S. Representative Jake Pickle added his name to those of over twelve hundred other petitioners — a large percentage of the population of the entire county. In August of 1986, Courthouse advocates crowded into a City Council meeting determined that an Historical District ordinance to prevent the loss of additional buildings would be passed. The successful outcome spoke out clearly on behalf of preserving Blanco's cultural heritage.

Courthouse Archictect

​Frederick Ernst Ruffini designed Blanco's historic courthouse building, which was built in 1886.

Hospital Years

​The Old Courthouse served the area as a general hospital from 1937 to 1961. 

Rededication

In May, 1998, after countless hours of fund raising, planning, renovation and restoration work by OBCCPS members, the grand old building was rededicated and reopened for use by then Governor George W. Bush. Efforts to pay off the restoration debt and to complete the restoration continue as OBCCPS continues to pursue the dream.

© Old Blanco County Courthouse • Blanco, Texas