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Historic Courthouse Burned: Mason County Courthouse Destroyed in Fire

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The Mason County Courthouse was one of the most beautiful courthouses in the Lone Star State. The courthouse burned in a fire on Thursday night, February, 4th, and County Judge Jerry Bearden said the historic building has been destroyed.

Constructed in 1909, the Mason County Courthouse was a fine example of the Classical revival style and it featured local sandstone. E. C. Hosford designed the Beaux Arts look of the building, with a central dome and clocktower, gabled front porticoes and Doric columns. In September of 1974, the courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places. When the courthouse burned in the fire, the Hill Country lost a beautiful structure and a piece of our collective history. Prior to the 1909 construction, two earlier county courthouses were destroyed by fire.

Historic Courthouse Burned: Mason County Courthouse Destroyed in Fire

Photo: Tony Maples Photography 

A suspect in the February 2021 fire was taken into police custody on Friday, February 5th, after he led officers in high-speed chase. The chase apparently began on northbound Interstate 35 through Bell County and went into McLennan County. Nicholas Miller, 41, was held in McLennan County jail on arson, unlawful possession of a firearm, and evading arrest. His bond was reportedly set at $1.8 million.

The Texas Historical Commission issued the following statement: “Our commission and staff are in shock today as we consider the terrible damage caused to the landmark Mason County Courthouse in last night’s fire. We offer our sincere condolences to Judge Jerry Bearden and his constituents across Mason County.”

Historic Courthouse Burned: Mason County Courthouse Destroyed in Fire

Photo: Tony Maples Photography

The population of Mason County, Texas was 4,012 in the 2010 census. Its county seat is the city of Mason. Famous Indian captive Herman Lehmann was kidnapped in Mason County in 1870. Also in the 1870s, the Hoo Doo War was fought over cattle rustling, with its most famous participant being Johnny Ringo. “Old Yeller” fans will be delighted to learn that the book’s author, Fred Gibson, grew up in Mason. A bronze sculpture by Garland Weeks honors the Texas writer of the classic children’s novel that became an immortal Disney film, loved by generations of families everywhere. Check out the Mason library foyer, which displays Gipson memorabilia.

When the courthouse burned in the fire, the Hill Country lost a beautiful structure and a piece of our collective history.