Gainesville Daily Register

December 3, 2012

Cooke County courthouse on Texas historic holiday site list

Staff Report
Gainesville Daily Register

Gainesville — Texas communities are celebrating the holidays by dressing up their downtowns and historic squares in seasonal style.

In many towns, including Gainesville, the centerpiece of this holiday tradition is the historic county courthouse, many of which have been restored to their original grandeur through the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program.

County officials rededicated the courthouse in November 2011. Last year marked the first holiday season since the building underwent a 16-month restoration to return the courthouse to its 1911 grandeur.

THC approved nearly $4 million for the project — a top to bottom renovation.

Included in the project were broadening of the building’s offices and courtrooms, new paint, mouldings and fire sprinklers and overhauls of the wiring, heating and air conditioning systems.

Just over a year later, the county is again set to celebrate the holidays in style.

Workers have assembled the county’s Christmas tree and a lighting ceremony is set to coinicide with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce annual holiday parade beginning at 6 p.m., Thursday.

If a holiday road trip is on your schedule, THC officials point out December is a great time to check out some of the other newly restored historic sites throughout the Lone Star State.

From the adobe caliche block homestead of Texas hero José Antonio Navarro in downtown San Antonio to the stately Fulton Mansion State Historic Site in Rockport, many of the real places that tell the real stories of Texas have been newly restored through the Texas Historical Commission’s (THC) Historic Sites Program.

Within a couple hours’ drive of Cooke County is the 1868 Sam Bell Maxey House in Paris and the Sam Rayburn House Museum State Historic Site.

The Bell Maxey House once housed the Confederate general and two-term U.S. Senator’s family, and hosted many distinguished guests over the years. A multi-purpose room accommodates educational groups and is open to the public.

Preservation work at the Sam Rayburn House Museum State Historic Site just west of Bonham was completed this year, and the former home of the U.S. Speaker of the House from Texas — who served for 17 consecutive years — is a 20th-century time capsule. Several of the historic sites are decorated for the holidays, and feature special programs.

The Starr Family Home in Marshall showcases three generations of the Starr family history through the preservation of seven historic buildings, and includes an extensive collection of family artifacts.

For more information, visit the THC website at, or call the Historic Sites Division at (512) 463-7948.