Public support urged for moving forward with 1913 Courthouse Annex renovations
Teddy Hopkins is hoping for a strong show of support on Wednesday morning when the Shelby County Historical Society makes a presentation before the Shelby County Commissioners requesting permission to apply for a grant to start the process of renovating the Shelby County 1913 Courthouse Annex building on the downtown square.
Hopkins, historical society board member who will take over as chairman in February, said he plans to ask county commissioners for permission to apply for a grant through the Texas Preservation Trust Fund Program through the Texas Historical Commission at the weekly 9:30 a.m. Shelby County Commissioners' Court meeting.
The grant would be to help fund an architectural master plan with an estimated cost of $50,000 to $60,000, Hopkins said. The county would be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the cost of preparing the plan if the grant is secured, he said.
“This county has five towns and each one of those towns has a voice,” Hopkins said. By relocating the Shelby County Museum to the square will help provide the entire county with a location to highlight local history.
“What greater place to have each of those five towns come together than on the square to share their individual histories,” he said. The grant would provide the county with funds to retain a museum consultant familiar with the process and what should be included in plans for moving forward.
He called the request of moving forward with plans to renovate the 1913 Courthouse Annex building “historical” for the county in that not much has been done to take steps to either utilize it or renovate it in the 25 years since it was vacated on Jan.1, 1993 when courthouse offices moved to the then new county courthouse at 200 San Augustine Street.
“This is ground breaking for the county and will accomplish two things,” Hopkins said. “Number one, it will put the building in the public eye. Number two, it will put the museum into the building.”
By moving the Shelby County Museum from 230 Pecan Street to the downtown square will allow greater access and more visibility to better showcase the important role Shelby County history has played not only locally, but in the state's development.
“The museum right now is basically on life support,” Hopkins said. The location is too small to adequately display county history and there are access issues with parking, he said.
Hopkins said the historic 1885 Courthouse, the 1913 Courthouse Annex and the old jail building on the square where the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce is now housed are all on the National Register of Historic Places, he said.
“Once we get the master plan completed we will go into another phase — a fund drive,” Hopkins said. That will include seeking other grants and public contributions from local Shelby County businesses and individuals.
“It will really compliment the whole vision by having a good showing of attendance at Wednesday's meeting,” he said.
“We need people who love our history and who don't want it to be lost to show up with their support,” Hopkins said. “This will be just short of a miracle of if we can get approval.”
Hopkins said the application needs to be into the state by Jan. 31 to be considered in the next funding cycle. Once received by the state, the county's grant application will be critiqued by the Texas Historical Commission.
If the grant is approved he was not certain when the state would disperse funds for the project.