By Elsa Maxey
If only the statue of Lady Justice on the county’s courthouse could speak, she’d have 103 years of stories to tell about the past. That’s how old the courthouse is in Fort Bend County, and it is undergoing heavy duty restoration expected to be completed by the end of the year. The major renovation will have some of its additions to the original structure removed. That means the restored courthouse will probably end up looking much like the majestic structure it was when it was new.
Shortly after this time next year, be prepared to see the notable county landmark fully functional with office work spaces. It won’t be a museum. That’s what County Judge Bob Hebert has made clear. He’s said that “this project will be a complete restoration intended to renew and modernize the building while maintaining the historical accuracy of its original elevations and interior/exterior features.” That means it will remain in use and continue to serve Fort Bend County as the structurally sound facility it has been for over a century.
Action by the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court recently authorized the expenditure of a little over $5 million as a cap for the courthouse restoration project. Back in April 2012, the commissioners approved a contract with The George Foundation for a $2 million grant for restoring the historic courthouse. At that time, the restoration project cost was expected to be $4.2 million with about $2.3 million to come from Fort Bend County. According to the terms of the contract with The George Foundation, it would provide $1 million in 2012, with additional payments of $500,000 each year in 2013 and 2014.
Reports indicate that the courthouse’s initial construction cost in 1908 was $75,000 and when the land was purchased, it cost $6,750.