By Elsa Maxey
When the first meeting of the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court was held at the newly renovated courthouse in Richmond built over 100 years ago, a sentiment about the option for the governing body to move back to its former meeting site may well be exercised. “We may move it back to the Travis Building, if we find significant problems with this building,” said Judge Bob Hebert during consideration of an agenda item requiring that the move be formally acted on in accordance with a local government code.
The inaugural meeting at the renovated historic courthouse on Jackson Street in Room 203 took place on December 17. When the meeting promptly started at 1 p.m., in his welcoming remarks Judge Hebert said, “as you can see we’re trying to get used to these facilities, it is a change,” and “there’s a lot of work to be done.”
Logistic issues include the height of the podium in the room. “We’re trying to get the podium short enough that people can use it without blocking the view,” he said, also noting “there’s nothing we can do about those two columns.” In a nutshell about the columns, it was between having them or “having the roof fall in on us while we’re meeting,” he quipped. TV monitors for viewing were mounted in the meeting room and other improvements are still in the making. “No matter where you sit in the courthouse, you’ll be able to view anything that’s on exhibit up here, I am told,” said Judge Hebert.
A dedication of the restored 1908 courthouse is planned for January and that’s “when we’ll have all the bugs worked out,” he said.
During the massive restoration of the courthouse building, there were additions to the original structure that were removed to restore the courthouse to its majestic condition. A recorded historic landmark, the renovated Fort Bend County Courthouse represents the fifth courthouse for Fort Bend County. The structure was built in 1908 and dedicated in 1909. Its exterior styling features a dome, the scales of justice statue, and cornices of copper with the interior having a 3-story rotunda.
The county reports that December 10, 2013 marked the date of the last Commissioners Court meeting in the Travis Building. The first Commissioners Court in there was almost 15 years ago on February 3, 1998.