Harrison County rose to prominence by 1850, just eight years after formal organization. The county’s first courthouse, completed the same year, expressed the town’s affluence with its elegant, Neoclassical façade and square-plan antebellum charm.
County citizens were partial to the political arena, thus lively public discussions involving county politics and economics were a common sight in and around the courthouse square. After the Civil War and throughout Reconstruction, Marshall’s population increased over 100% and by 1887 a new, larger courthouse was required to manage the increase in county business. The antebellum style courthouse was demolished and replaced with a three-story Italianate structure featuring St. Louis pressed-brick, sandstone trim, and a 175-foot tall tower in 1889.
In 1899 the impressive courthouse was destroyed by fire. County commissioners hired J. Riely Gordon who was known for his Romanesque Revival monuments. Gordon incorporated Classical Revival and Beaux Arts details in his dramatic reimagining of a Harrison County courthouse, creating one of the most stylistic historic public buildings surviving in Texas today. The Neo-Italian Renaissance Revival monument features a dramatic interior rotunda, a façade of locally-fired buff-colored brick, a rusticated base of pink quarry-faced granite and Roman arches. A central octagonal dome rises above the structure, accented with bronze plating, four clock faces, and a dozen bronze eagles. At its apex rests a lantern base supporting the statue of the Goddess of Justice with scales. The Harrison County Courthouse was completed in 1901.
By the turn of the 20th century, the Harrison County Courthouse no longer served as the central location for county offices. A modern courthouse was constructed nearby and the historic courthouse, in need of complete renovation and restoration, became the county museum.
Today, the Harrison County Historical Museum occupies several wings of the courthouse, featuring exhibits ranging from the Native American Caddo culture to the history of the Wiley College. The museum’s collection includes thousands of artifacts and has an extensive photographic and text archive partially maintained by a genealogical society. Notable pieces housed in the museum include; an Inaugural ball gown worn by Lady Bird Johnson and an accompanying suit worn by Lyndon Johnson, the Emmy Bill Moyers won for his documentary Marshall, Texas: Marshall, Texas, and George Foreman’s world championship belt.
Tuesday – Saturday 10-4
Last admission ticket issued at 3
- Adults $6
- Seniors (60 and over) $5
- Students 16 and Over $1
- Students Under 16 & Children FREE
$1.00 TUESDAYS & SECOND SATURDAYS
GROUPS OF 10 OR MORE $3 when scheduled 5 days in advance
Read more about the Harrison County Courthouse and Museum.