Texas County Considers Replacing Current Courthouse

By CN Staff

SMITH COUNTY, Texas—Smith County officials are considering hiring a firm for services that would include researching a new courthouse.

A $20,000 contract was discussed earlier this month to retain Project Advocates LLC, a Dallas area firm. Among the duties indicated in a draft contract obtained by the Tyler Morning Telegraph, it read that a company’s representative must “accompany the team to visit county courthouses that meet the expectations of Smith County’s new courthouse.”

The current Smith County Courthouse was built in 1955 and is a concrete, brick and stone building. That courthouse replaced the one built in 1910 that many at the time considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings in Tyler.

The 1955 demolition of the 1910 courthouse was a traumatic event for Smith County residents. The historic structure, designed by CH Paige and located in the center of downtown, was a point of pride among residents. In 1910, the dedication of this original courthouse drew huge crowds.

In 1955, Tyler residents were so attached to the historic justice center that Smith County had to enter litigation with the city of Tyler to settle ownership of the downtown square and the right to the courthouse itself.

More recently, during her reelection campaign last year, Commissioner JoAnn Hampton said she would like to build a new courthouse and that the work might involve taking out a bond. She also suggested at that time that this project would not start until work is completed on the $39.5 million road bond that was approved in 2017.