Representatives from LCRA and Pedernales Electric Cooperative present a $25,000 grant to the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society for repairs to stairways in the historic Old Blanco County Courthouse. The grant is part of LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. Pictured, front row, left to right, are: Dennis Hinson, PEC representative; George Russell, LCRA Board member; Tom Martine, LCRA Board member; Jim Harris, preservation society president; and Joleen Moden, preservation society board member. Second row, left to right, Rick Arnic, LCRA Governmental Affairs representative; Trista Fugate, PEC representative; Mary Harris, preservation society board member; Lesley Griffin, preservation society manager; and Maggie Dyer, preservation society board member.
A $25,000 community development grant from the Lower Colorado River Authority and Pedernales Electric Cooperative will help restore two interior staircases at the historic Old Blanco County Courthouse.
The original staircases are more than 130 years old, have unstable handrails and are not at the height required by modern codes. The west stairs have been closed for nearly two years due to safety concerns. The Community Development Partnership Program grant, plus $9,813 in matching funds, will enable the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society to restore the stairs to their original splendor and reopen them to public use.
“This courthouse has a history that’s second to none,” said Jim Harris, president of the preservation society.
Though built as a courthouse in 1885-1886, it only functioned as one for four years. The two-story limestone landmark at 300 Main Street has been a high school, opera house, library, newsroom and – for almost 30 years – a hospital, among other uses. It was recognized by the Texas Historical Commission as a registered historic site in 1972, and scenes in the 2010 movie “True Grit” starring Jeff Bridges also were filmed there.
Today, the building houses a visitors center and private offices, and is available to rent for events including weddings, community meetings and memorial services. The grounds are used year-round, from the Market Days to the Blanco Lavender Festival each spring. A recent initiative to replace the roof delayed the staircase renovation project.
“The courthouse is truly the center of town,” said Joleen Moden, preservation society board member. “It’s the first thing you see. So many things revolve around the landmark. It’s a great old building, but like any old building, it requires work. You hate to see it in disrepair because of its importance to the community.”
Fixing the structural integrity of the staircases and repairing and elongating the existing staircase spindles will not compromise the historic character of the interior. Everything, including the trim and stair treatment, will be accurately refinished in consultation with a Texas Historical Commission architect, as the staircases are made safe for visitors for years to come.
The community grant is one of a number of grants recently awarded through LCRA’s Community Development Partnership Program. The program provides economic development and community assistance grants to cities, counties, volunteer fire departments, regional development councils and other nonprofit organizations in LCRA’s wholesale electric and water service areas. The program is part of LCRA’s effort to give back to the communities it serves. PEC is one of LCRA’s wholesale electric customers and a partner in the grant program.
Applications for the next round of grants will be accepted July 1-July 31. More information is available at lcra.org/cdpp.
The Lower Colorado River Authority serves customers and communities throughout Texas by managing the lower Colorado River; generating and transmitting electric power; providing a clean, reliable water supply; and offering access to nature at more than 40 parks, recreation areas and river access sites along the Texas Colorado River, from the Hill Country to the Gulf Coast. LCRA and its employees are committed to enhancing the lives of Texans through water stewardship, energy and community services. LCRA was created by the Texas Legislature in 1934. For more information, visit lcra.org.
Source: LCRA Business News