History

Explore the Historic Beauty of the Blanco County Courthouse

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If you’re in the mood to see some classic Texas architecture, there’s no better place than the Old Blanco County Courthouse! The Blanco courthouse was built in 1885-1886 and served several purposes over the years. At certain points in its history, the courthouse was used as a school, a bank, and even a barbeque restaurant.

F.E. Ruffini designed the Old Blanco County Courthouse. He and his brother Oscar designed several Texas buildings in the 1880s.  Not many of these buildings are still standing, unfortunately.

Explore the Historic Beauty of the Blanco County Courthouse

Photo: The Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society

Blanco County came awfully close to losing the courthouse in 1986, when a local businessman bought the building. He intended to dismantle the courthouse and move it to his ranch as his personal home.

When the community got wind of this idea, they weren’t happy about it, and they took action. One person in particular, JoNell Haas, was instrumental in raising the money to buy the courthouse back. She was born in the courthouse in 1958, back when it was being used as a hospital. (Yes, it was a hospital too!)

After living elsewhere for a while, Ms. Haas came back to Blanco to find that the county was about to lose their courthouse. She immediately got to work, helping to form a non-profit organization (The Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society)  and scheduling fundraisers.

The Society’s first fundraiser was a bake sale that raised $750. Some people snickered at that. A lot more money was needed. So, the Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society hosted bigger events. One of these fundraisers was a country music concert that turned down Garth Brooks! Of course, he wasn’t all that famous at the time.

These big events attracted press, which publicized the situation throughout the state. Money started to pour in. Even so, the Society was only able to buy the Old Courthouse because the owner, John W. O’Boyle was willing to sell it for cheap. Apparently, Mr. O’Boyle just wanted to make sure the old building stayed intact. He sold the building to the non-profit at a loss. Rich people can be good neighbors too.

Explore the Historic Beauty of the Blanco County Courthouse

Photo: The Old Blanco County Courthouse Preservation Society

The Society still owns the Old Blanco County Courthouse. Until recently, the grand old building has been hosting weddings and other events. In these times, whether you’re able to host an event there or not is a toss-up. You should probably call the venue itself and check. Reservations are required to host events there anyway.

After reading this, you may want to take a tour of the Blanco Courthouse. The Courthouse has been partially restored, so there should be plenty to see. The tours may have been stopped due to COVID-19 though, so you probably should call first. If the tours are available, they’re free of charge.

The Old Blanco County Courthouse has been used as a location in movies and TV shows. Recently, you could see it in 2010’s True Grit. Some of the courthouse hallways can be seen in the film. The film crew also converted the courthouse ballroom  (back?) into a courtroom for one scene.

The Courthouse has a historic picture collection, which you can also view at no charge. Seeing the changes in the area through old pictures seems like a fun way to spend a rainy afternoon.

About thirty years ago, the Old Blanco County Courthouse was nearly lost. Fortunately, the community came together and saved the building. Today, you can enjoy it in all its glory. Forget the movie–it’s the folks working to save the Blanco Courthouse, like JoNell Haas,  who really showed True Grit.