The historic courthouse in Mason County was destroyed in a fire overnight, leaving Hill Country residents devastated at the sight of the 111-year-old icon going up in flames.
The Mason County Courthouse, which was being prepared for renovations, caught on fire around 10 p.m. Thursday, Mason County Judge Jerry Bearden told KXAN in Austin.
By 1:30 a.m. Friday, he said, only the building’s outer rock wall was left.
Architects had already taken paint samples and pictures of inside the building, but the actual renovations were supposed to start in May, he said.
County records had already been moved out of the building.
KSAT has reached out to the county judge for more information, including the cause of the fire, but Bearden told the television station that “we’re going to investigate everything.”
“We are strong enough and we will rebuild,” he said.
Videos and images of the “beloved” structure on fire filled the Mason County, TX Online Community Facebook page on Friday morning.
One resident posted that they were “heartbroken,” while another local said it was “gut-wrenching.”
“My family has lived in Mason County for over a hundred years and this courthouse has been one of beauty, enjoyed every time I was in town,” Stan Martin posted in the group.
Other residents shared memories and images in remembrance of the “grand old lady.”
It’s so sadPosted by Rich C Klein on Thursday, February 4, 2021
Posted by Liz Sapien on Thursday, February 4, 2021
Sad just sad. Got married in that court house. Gut wrenching to see it gone. Mason is strong we will rebuild it i know we will.Posted by Robert Gotcher on Thursday, February 4, 2021
Bearden told KXAN that it is “a terrible tragedy for people in the county.”
“This is my 19th year being in office here, and I’ve been through floods and fires, but I’ve never had anything with a gut punch that I’ve had with this.”
The courthouse was built in 1909-1910 and was designed by Dallas architect E. C. Hosford, according to the Mason Chamber of Commerce. The Classical Revival-style building cost $39,786 at the time.
In the lawn, the pecan trees were planted in the 1930s, and the stonewall was built in 1927-28.
This is the county’s third courthouse, as the previous two also burned down.
This is a developing story. It will be updated as more information becomes available.