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El Paso County Court House and Jail
El Paso, Texas


Description: El Paso Court House and Jail
Other Names: El Paso City County Building
Address: East San Antonio Avenue between Kansas and Campbell Street, EL Paso, El Paso County, Texas
Original Client: El Paso County Commissioners Court
Date: 1915-1916
Condition: demolished about 1988, except for part of the concrete frame, which was used in constructing a replacement

Architect or Firm: Henry C. Trost
Associated Architect or Firm: Trost &
Contractors: J. E. Morgan, principal contractor; Hamilton Company, Dallas, heating, ventilating, and power plant; Newton Holt Company, Chicago, wooden furniture; Steel Fixtures Manufacturing Company, Topeka, steel furniture and fixtures; Horn and Brennan Manufacturing Company,Philadelphia, electrical fixtures; National Telephone and Supply Company,conduits and wiring; Pauley Jail Company, steel cell work and jail equipment
Dimensions and Orientation: a five story block with elevated basement; faced north; jail on top of building.
Budget/Cost: about, $760,000, including furniture and fixtures (about $1,000,000 with Liberty Hall)

Foundation: concrete
Wall Materials: brick, over a reinforced concrete skeleton; terra cotta, granite
Roofing Materials: flat
Other Materials Used: terra cotta trim and 12 fluted terra cotta columns; interior woodwork of oak and birch; marble for flooring, paneling and stairways.
Remodeling and Additions: exterior refaced, columns removed, 1957-1959

Present Owner: County of El Paso
Location of Drawings: El Paso Public Library: (WW-15) 12 blue line plans, pages 11-16, 18, 19, 21, 24, 28, 29, dated September 22, 1915, elevations; Ponsford 298, photograph of rendering of San Antonio Street elevation.
Location of Documentary Photographs: El Paso Public Library: Ponsford 299, perspective view from the West; Ponsford 299a, facade; Ponsford 123, balconies and ceiling of Liberty Hall, an auditorium later added to the Court House (Plaza Studio Photo); Aultman A5615, perspective view fromCampbell Street; Aultman A9061, aerial view of El Paso with the County Court House visible; one of the Golden Jubilee photographs, made May 16,1923, includes an aerial view with the County Court House visible (given to the El Paso Public Library along with a letter describing the gift,Walter Bender to Maud Sullivan, May 29, 1923); Arizona State University Library: Luhrs Collection, photograph of exterio

Bibliography: (1) Lloyd C. Engelbrecht, Henry Trost: the Prairie School in the Southwest, The Prairie School Review, volume VI, number 4 (FourthQuarter, 1969), pages 28-29, circumstances of awarding of commission
(2) J. Morgan Broaddus, The Legal Heritage of El Paso (El Paso: Texas Western College Press, 1963), pages 155-161 (details of financing, planning and constructing the Court House)
(3) Rufe P. March, New Buildings for Year, $4,000,000, El Paso Herald, August 26, 1916, Progress and Building Section, page 4 (description of the building, report on progress of construction, list of contractors), page 5 (photographs of the County Court House under construction)
(4) Frank Mangan, El Paso in Pictures (El Paso: The Press, 1971), pages 58-60 (photograph taken before old courthouse, on the site of Liberty hall, was demolished; contractor named in picture caption) (5) Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht, Henry C. Trost: Architect of the Southwest (El Paso: El Paso Public Library Association, 1981), page 65 (quotation from a letter written by Henry Trost, January 4, 1917: (We are also building the [El Paso County] Court House.)
(6) Ed Foster, Will Sturdy Old EP Courthouse Be Resurrected Once More? El Paso Times, January 27, 1985 (discussion of proposals for replacing or restoring the Court House)
(7) David Landis, “Fire Trap;” Panel Urges renovation of Courthouse, El Paso Times, June 29, 1985, pages 1A and 6A (proposals for renovating and replacing Court House, photographs of Court House before and after renovation of 1957-1959, site plan showing 1915-1916 Court House and Liberty Hall addition, plus a 1959 addition that surrounded Liberty Hall)
(8) Michael Scanlon, Building Design Is Next Step in County Courthouse Project, El Paso Times, August 31, 1987 (discussion of plans to demolish Liberty Hall, and to demolish all of the Court House except part of the concrete frame, to be reused as part of a replacement building)
(9) Janet Perez, It’s Raining Rats and Blocks in County Offices, El Paso Times, August 3, 1989, pages 1A and 2A (report on the demolition of the east half of the Court House, illustrated with a color photograph by Rudy Gutierrez)
(10) El Paso Herald, April 27, 1915 page 9
(11) El paso Herald, June 3, 1916 page 9 – brick and terra exterior finished, raised to the second floor on the north side.
(12) El Paso Herald, January 27, 1934 page 2 ‘Architects Design New Police Station’

Remarks: Commission 2338

The plans for the courthouse were protested by the El Paso Southwestern Association of Architects. The president was Edward Kneezell. He sent forth the complaint from the  members of the association against the actions of the county commissioner in rescinding their former order asking for competitive plans for the proposed court house and then employing Trost & Trost as the architects.

The plans for the courthouse were accepted on September 23,1915. There was separate bids for the operations: construction of the courthouse proper, construction of the jail, and construction and installation of the power plant for heating and cooling the courthouse and jail.

In June of 1916, Henry travel to St Louis, where he  inspected the manufacture of the steel cells for the jail department, which was to be  located on the top floor of the building.

In January of 1934, Trost & Trost prepared sketches of a court house addition. The suggestion was that the building be the police headquarters building. ( not known if this was done)

Ernest Trost, son of Gustavus A. Trost, reported that he remembered seeing a model of this building in the offices of Trost & Trost (interview with Lloyd C. Engelbrecht, Oakland, California,(February 1985). This is the only time that the authors found that  a model of a proposed building was made.


Prepared for the El Paso Public Library by Lloyd C. and June F. Engelbrecht under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, 1990