The Duval County Courthouse
400 E. Gravis Ave., San Diego, Duval County
2011 Most Endangered List
The Duval County Courthouse is one of 12 sites that Preservation Texas, Inc. has named to its tenth anniversary retrospective list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places.
Originally named to the 2011 list of Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places, the Duval County Courthouse is listed as threatened on the 2013 list. Preservation Texas officials announced the selections on the steps of the Texas State Capitol on Preservation Day, February 20. The annual announcement is part of Preservation Day activities organized by Preservation Texas. Advocates from all over the state come to participate in informational sessions, meet with legislators at the Capitol and get an in depth look at lessons to be learned from the sites named to the list.
“The 2013 list provides a retrospective for us,” said Charlene Orr, president of Preservation Texas, Inc., a statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We decided to focus on lessons learned during the last 10 years by highlighting success stories as well as losses and threatened sites that continue to need urgent attention.” The 2013 list includes six saved sites, three threatened sites and three lost sites.
“Our six saved sites reflect the importance of collaboration between committed grassroots leadership and elected officials and city officials who realize the importance of historic preservation.” she continued. “It’s this powerful combination of resources that can make the difference in preserving a or losing it.”
“Progress has been made on the Duval County Courthouse, but there is still much to be done to take preservation efforts to the next level,” said Orr. “By re-listing the site, we want to continue to call attention to it and encourage action while there is still time to save it.”
The Duval County Courthouse is an example of the many Texas courthouses that still need renovation. In 1998 and again in 2012, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Texas’ courthouses to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The National Trust has since named them a National Treasure, signifying their national significance and the Trust’s ongoing commitment to their preservation.
In February 2013 the “I Love Texas Courthouses” campaign traveled through Texas. Launched by the National Trust and Preservation Texas with support from the Texas Historical Commission, the campaign is increasing awareness of the importance of the courthouses to Texas’ history, culture and community.
Since 1916, the Duval County Courthouse has served as the seat of government for Duval County. The courthouse was designed by Sanguinet, Staats, & Gottlieb, a successful and influential architecture firm in Texas.
The Duval County Courthouse is falling apart despite its use for a majority of the county’s government functions. The building is threatened with structural damage, substantial water infiltration, and malfunctioning plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. The courthouse is overcrowded with county officials, staff, and prison functions, which has resulted in the use of electrical equipment rooms as staff offices.
The historic resources in Duval County represented by the courthouse are matched only by the area’s natural resources that have generated tremendous growth in the South Texas economy with the resurgence of oil exploration. With increased political and community leadership, the county should be able to use these natural resources to save the courthouse.
Sites receiving the Texas’ Most Endangered Historic Places designation receive consultation in such areas as technical assistance to identify preservation needs and set priorities, fund raising expertise, and advocacy assistance by fostering partnerships and building community support. Preservation Texas also helps to raise awareness with social media.