Second Empire style borrows from the time of Napoleon III of France. The style has a mansard roof that is steep and nearly vertical. The base of the roof will have a molding supported by brackets. Different textures and colors on both the walls and roof accent this structure while bands of stone separate the floors and cornerstones.
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Texas Renaissance style was a dominant design from about 1900 until the 1930s. The architecture combines other styles such as Renaissance Revival, Classical Revival and Italianate to form a style that is Texan in origin. The one dominant feature of this style of courthouse is the Texas elements that form parts of the building. These features boast the prowess and pride of an ever growing state.
Popular at the turn of the century, the Classical Revival style of courthouse shares some design features with the Renaissance Revival courthouses. Classical Revival, also known as Neoclassical, borrows from the Greek columns with Doric, Ionic and Corinthian features. The buildings have clean symmetrical lines with large rectangular windows. They are accented with strong pediments with detailed cornices at the base of a simple roof.
Renaissance Revival courthouses were usually three-story buildings that trace their roots back to Greek and Roman architecture. The first floor is usually Doric (simple with clean lines), the second floor is Ionic (more decorative and elaborate) and the third floor is Corinthian (very ornate and decorative). The window sizes change from level to level and the porches and entries are accented by archways and pediments. The roof line is trimmed by railing and decorative molding.
Romanesque Revival courthouses usually have a castle-like appearance with rough stonework. The walls are thick, the windows vary in size and the towers have thin turrets that are topped with conical roofs. The overall design is very heavy and Gothic in look and feel.
This style of courthouse has a simple boxy shape with decorations, brackets, moldings and quoins to give visual interest. Certain structural elements lend from the Mediterranean style. The window moldings change from floor to floor and are crowned with flat, round or segmented arches.
This style of courthouse, popular from the late 1800s until the 1930s, was based on the early Spanish missions of Texas. Distinguishing characteristics include a red tile, hipped roof. A hipped roof contains four pitched surfaces. The hip is the angle formed at the intersections of the slopes. A parapet, or low wall, surrounds the balcony around the roof. Stucco walls usually surrounded the exterior while exposed rafters, supporting the eaves, were built to add uniqueness. There are only three examples of this courthouse architecture in Texas.
The Beaux-Arts style was popular among wealthy Americans at the turn of the century. Carved garlands, shields and columns topped with elaborate capitals help define its elaborate look. The cornices that trim the roof line and pediments are very intricate and detailed. The windows are often trimmed with small embedded columns that are similar in design to the massive columns that appear before entryways.
Art-Deco style reflects a contemporary or modern look that adds components of art and designs to give the courthouse a unique and flamboyant look.
There is only one fully Mediterranean style courthouse in Texas, while a couple of others reflect parts of this style. The Mediterranean architecture consists of clean, straight walls with a red tile roof. The towers are usually square with a roof that is somewhat flat. They reflect the style of buildings in old Moorish Spain.
Beginning in the 1920s and continuing until today, the contemporary, or modern courthouse, has been the more popular style throughout the state. It reflects a more modern, industrialized age with straight clean lines. The simple style is usually rectangular and the building made of pre-fabricated components that have been mass produced. These courthouses serve as a model of efficiency and a marvel of technological advancement.