Cotton Belt Depot Visitors Center
The Cotton Belt Depot Visitor Center provides tourist/visitor information to travelers. The Gatesville Chamber of Commerce offices in the Depot and provides relocation information to the newest members of the community.
The Gatesville Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Foundation) is an organization whose goal is to preserve the Cotton Belt Depot Building which currently houses the Gatesville Chamber of Commerce (Chamber) to provide visitors with a great first impression of our beautiful city and this historic building by repairing and renovating the Cotton Belt Depot building.
Building Repair / Exterior
Building Repair / Interior
Our Wish List for Building
Coryell County Courthouse
The Coryell County courthouse was built in 1898 of native limestone and Pecos Sandstone. The architect, W. C. Dodson, designed the structure in Victorian Style with Romanesque Revival features. The courthouse was built by Tom Lovell for $74,194. Scottish stonecutters, helping to build the courthouse, shaped each stone before transportation to Gatesville, and they could be heard playing their bagpipes each evening. The refurbished courthouse is one of the states most spectacular.
Noted for the design of a number of Central Texas courthouses such as those in Hood, Denton, and Hill counties, architect W.C. Dodson modified the traditional cross-axial plan to allow the erection of a central tower in the Coryell County Courthouse. By moving the district courtroom to a position along side the tower rather one centered under it, he was able to extend masonry support walls to the ground and support a heavy structure -- as opposed to a light wooden work supported on trusses over the court space.
The Coryell Temple of justice also marks something of a departure from yet another convention of Texas courthouse architecture in which entrances in four relatively uniform facades give equal prominence to each of the commercial blocks surrounding the square. In spite of the presence of entrances in each facade the dominant architectural treatment of the south side suggests one major entrance. The north side has secondary dominance and the east and west entrances, identical in composition, have tertiary importance. In later years the main street shifted to the north side of the square and the north entrance became predominant. The south portico has paired corner columns while the north has single columns; also the openings flanking the central arch are smaller on the north.
Among the most remarkable features of the building is the composition of the interior spaces. Two central corridors passing through the building intersect on right angles under a rotunda. Located in the corridor just inside the prominent south entrance, a wide stair leads to a wide second floor landing, thence onward to the center where the floor plan enlarges and encompasses the rotunda openings, providing it an excellent progression of spaces terminating at the spacious district courtroom.
The form of this courtroom is the basis for a unique composition of forms. Built in oval form at the request of the county commissioners it is strongly expressed on the northeast and northwest with curved forms. On the north side of the building, the district judge's office and a circular stair are contained within separate towers located adjacent to a portico which is similar to but smaller than the south portico.
On the ground level, this oval form contains the county courtroom on the west side of a bisecting corridor, and sheriff's office and office of the county clerk on the north side. Typical of many courthouses, spaces for the grand jury and district clerk were located on the second level. The third story--the level of the district courtroom balcony- contained rooms for jury's and office space.
Much of Dodson's work was Romanesque in character with elements of either The Second Empire or Classical style. The Coryell County Courthouse is of the latter type, firmly based in the round arches.
The Coryell County Courthouse has local historical importance and regional architectural significance. It has been the center of governmental activities since its completion and, continues to serve these functions. It was designed by a prominent Texas architect and has no counterpart in the state. Comprised of curved and rectangular forms, and incorporating a combination of Romanesque and Classical details, as well as polychromatic materials, the edifice is one of the most interesting and charming nineteenth-century courthouses in the Southwest.
Coryell County, named for James Coryell, an early explorer of the region, was organized in 1854. Gatesville, the county seat, grew up around Fort Gates, established in 1849 to protect settlers from marauding Indians. After the incorporation of the county, public business was for a time conducted from rented offices and commercial buildings. Land for a courthouse square was acquired and a one-story framed structure was constructed in 1865 on a corner presently occupied by a city filling station. In 1872, a two-story structure of native white limestone was erected on this property and served as a focus of county business for the next twenty five years. The second courthouse, built at a cost of $11,000 had four rooms defined by intersecting main halls on the first floor with jury and courtrooms above.
On May 15, 1897, architect W.C. Dodson was commissioned to draw plans and specifications for a third courthouse at a contract price of three and half percent of the total building cost. The only stipulations imposed on the architect were that the building have a cupola on top with a Seth Thomas Clock and a bell of not less than 800 pounds, and that the building be roofed in metal with the dome on the cupola in clad copper. In addition, there were to be dual statues of Liberty and Justice at the north and south entrances.
On October 2, 1897, a hollow cornerstone was laid with full Masonic ritual. The stone was placed on the northeast corner of the building; its orientation, was, in ceremonial usage, symbolic of light. It was positioned at the accompaniment of music and after suitable orations was sprinkled with corn, wine and oil, emblematic of plenty health and peace. It was blue-gray granite weighing 1,825 pounds. Among the inscriptions on its surface were the dates Anno Domini and the Masonic Anno Lucia. Inside was a box of articles representative of the character of the period. Included were a photo of the old courthouse, two boxes of medicine, a copy of the Dallas Morning News, an 1897 five- cent piece, a bottle of whiskey and a list of Women's Christian Temperance Union officers along with a Columbian half dollar and Masonic Lodge Bible.
The courthouse was completed on July 18, 1898, at a cost of $73,649.69 by contractor Thomas Lovell. Constructed of native limestone and red sandstone, the blocks were cut to size at the quarry and hauled to the site by horse drawn wagons.
The courthouse today continues to serve its original function.
First Christian Church
Officially organized in 1892, the congregation built this structure and met here. The congregation disbanded in 1972. The building continued in use as a House of Worship for other groups for several years until it was deeded to the Coryell County Museum in 1990. The building exhibits well-crafted elements of the Greek Revival style in it's arched windows and steeply-pitched roof. The historical marker, along with the building, are located on Leon Street near downtown Gatesville.
Coryell Museum & Historical Center
Spurs ... spurs ... and more spurs! Located at 718 E. Main Street, the Museum contains exhibits that depict the history of the city and area, including a collection of spurs and western memorabilia. Open Tuesday - Saturday 10:00am - 4:00 pm. Admission: Adults - $2.00, Seniors & Students - $1.00, Children under 6 - free. Visit the Museum's website at http://www.coryellmuseum.org for more information. This is a must-see in Gatesville!
Old Leon River Bridge
The route once known as the Old Georgetown Road was in existence by 1854 and crossed the Leon River here. A ferry operated at this crossing as early as 1854. The bowstring truss bridge erected nearby in 1882 was the first truss bridge in Coryell County. Damaged by two major floods in 1899 and 1900, the County Commissioners authorized the building of another bridge. The George E. King Bridge Company of Des Moines, Iowa built this structure in 1904. Features include steel construction, wood decking, original lattice, pin-connected members, and elaborate stone abutments. The overall length of 141 feet from end to end allows for the 4-foot depth of masonry piers supporting the bridge. It is a 137-foot truss span with a 5-foot timber approach span, and is one of a few bridges surviving in Texas. The 1904 Bridge served as a major east-west artery for Central Texas. The road became part of State Highway 7 in 1917, and was renamed U.S. Highway 84 in the 1930's. The historic bridge was restored and rededicated in 1994.
Paul and Jane Meyer Observatory
The Central Texas Astronomical Society owns and operates the Paul and Jane Meyer Observatory at a dark sky site in Coryell County, near Clifton. Visit their website for more information: http://www.centexastronomy.org.