JEFFERSON — In commemoration of the completion of the renovations to the historic 1913 Marion County Courthouse, the building received a surprise gift in the form of a watercolor portrait to be prominently displayed for all to see.
The watercolor portrait, depicting the courthouse, was presented to the Marion County Commissioners Court by Marcia Thomas, great granddaughter of the late George Washington Brown, who was a commissioner during the construction of the historic building.
“Because you have (succeeded) the restoration of the courthouse, I felt like I needed to do something for my great grandfather, who was commissioner in 1912, when that courthouse was (conceived) and built,” Thomas told the court.
“They had so much money to work with and that was it,” she said of how frugal she imagined the 1912 administration, was, including her great grandfather.
“They built something substantial and strong and it looks monumental. That’s what they wanted,” she said. ‘So, in order to honor my great grandfather, I’m presenting the court with this portrait.”
Thomas said the watercolor portrait is a more modern depiction of the courthouse that was created by an artist in the Dallas area who specializes in Texas county courthouses.
“It says presented to the Marion County Texas Commissioners Court with honor and remembrance of George Washington Brown, commissioner in 1912, by his great granddaughter Marcia Thomas and her sons Carl Thomas and Christopher T. Thomas,” she said.
Thomas expressed how thrilled she is that the 20-year dream has now become reality.
“I want to congratulate you guys for following through on that project,” she told the court. “It’s a long time coming.”
Thomas recalled the genesis of the project, dating back to the administration of former county judge Gene Terry. The vision for the overhaul started with Terry the moment then-Gov. George Bush introduced the courthouse restoration program through the Texas Historical Commission.
“He wanted to get something done and he had the Marion County Historical Commission get involved with it by taking a look at the entirety of the courthouse and suggested many changes,” Thomas recalled.
“He ran out of paper,” she chuckled. “It needed a lot of changes, and we knew it did.
“But it’s just been a long time and I congratulate you all for following through and getting it done; and I can’t wait for it to open,” Thomas told the court.
The court thanked her for the gift. LaFleur said Monday that the painting may be displayed close to the Dallas Street entryway so that all who enter the building can view it.
As of now, all courthouse offices are closed this week, through Friday, to allow county offices to move back into the newly restored structure.
“We will reopen in our historically restored location, 102 West Austin Street, in Jefferson, on Monday, April 12,” said LaFleur.
The downtown landmark, located at 102 West Austin St., was afforded the makeover through a $4.7 million restoration grant awarded in April 2018 by the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP), as well as $1 million of county money.
County offices moved out of the courthouse in July 2018 into a temporary location at 119 W. Lafayette St., following the awarding of the grant. Renovations for the project began in June 2019, and were completed late February.
“We planned to move the week of the winter weather disaster but had to delay,” LaFleur advised.
LaFleur said they are taking the time this week to not only move, but make sure all the integrated technology is in order.
“It just gives us some time to make sure everything is up and running before we open,” the county judge said.
The offices of the county judge, commissioners, treasurer, county clerk, county auditor, district attorney, and district clerk will be returning to the building.