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RULE §17.2Review of Work on County Courthouses

Texas Government Code, Chapter 442, §442.008, requires that the Texas Historical Commission review changes made to courthouse structures.

  (1) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

    (A) Demolish--To remove, in whole or part. Demolition of historical or architectural integrity includes removal of historic architectural materials such as, but not limited to, materials in the following categories: site work, concrete, masonry, metals, carpentry, thermal and moisture protection, doors and windows, finishes, specialties, equipment, furnishings, special construction, conveying systems, mechanical and electrical.

    (B) Sell--To give up (property) to another for money or other valuable consideration; this includes giving the property to avoid maintenance, repair, etc.

    (C) Lease--To let a contract by which one conveys real estate, equipment, or facilities for a specified term and for a specified rent.

    (D) Damage--To alter, in whole or part. Damage to historical or architectural integrity includes alterations of structural elements, decorative details, fixtures, and other material.

    (E) Integrity--Refers to the physical condition and therefore the capacity of the resource to convey a sense of time and place or historic identity. Integrity is a quality that applies to location, design, setting, materials, and workmanship. It refers to the clarity of the historic identity possessed by a resource. In terms of architectural design, to have integrity means that a building still possesses much of its mass, scale, decoration, and so on, of either the period in which it was conceived and built, or the period in which it was adapted to a later style which has validity in its own rights as an expression of historical character or development. The question of whether or not a building possesses integrity is a question of the building's retention of sufficient fabric to be identifiable as a historic resource. For a building to possess integrity, its principal features must be sufficiently intact for its historic identity to be apparent. A building that is significant because of its historic association(s) must retain sufficient physical integrity to convey such association(s).

    (F) Courthouse--The principal building(s) which houses county government offices and courts and its (their) surrounding site(s), including the courthouse square and its associated site features, such as hardscape, fences, lampposts and monuments.

    (G) Hardscape--Features built into a landscape made of hard materials such as wood, stone or concrete, such as but not limited to paved areas, roads, driveways, pools, fountains, concrete walkways, stairways, culverts or walls.

    (H) Monuments--Refer to Chapter 26, §26.3(42) of this title.

    (I) Ordinary maintenance and repairs--Work performed to architectural or site materials which does not cause removal or alteration or concealment of that material.

  (2) Procedure.

    (A) Notice of alterations to county courthouse.

      (i) A county may not demolish, sell, lease, or damage the historical or architectural integrity of any building that serves or has served as a county courthouse without notifying the commission of the intended action at least six months before the date on which it acts. Any alteration to the historical or architectural integrity of the exterior or interior requires notice to the commission.

      (ii) If the commission determines that a courthouse has historical significance worthy of preservation, the commission shall notify the commissioners court of the county of that fact not later than the 30th day after the date on which the commission received notice from the county. A county may not demolish, sell, lease, or damage the historical or architectural integrity of a courthouse before the 180th day after the date on which it received notice from the commission. The commission shall cooperate with any interested person during the 180-day period to preserve the historical integrity of the courthouse.

      (iii) A county proceeding with alterations to its courthouse in violation of Texas Government Code, §442.008 and this section may be subject to civil penalties under Texas Government Code, §442.011.

      (iv) the relocation or removal of monuments from a courthouse square is governed by 13 TAC §21.13 this title (relating to Removal of Markers and Monuments).

    (B) Notice from the county to the commission. At least six months prior to the proposed work on a county courthouse, a letter from the county judge briefly describing the project should be submitted to the commission, along with construction documents, sketches or drawings which adequately describe the full scope of project work and photographs of the areas affected by the proposed changes.

    (C) The commission will consider the opinions of interested parties with regard to the preservation of the courthouse per Texas Government Code, §442.008(b).

    (D) Notice from the commission to the commissioner's court of the county. Written notice of the commission's determination regarding the historical significance of a courthouse for which work is proposed shall include comments pursuant to a review of the proposed work by the commission. Comments shall be made based on the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties 1992 or latest edition, which are summarized in clauses (i) - (iii) of this subparagraph:

      (i) Definitions for historic preservation project treatment.

        (I) Preservation is defined as the act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity, and materials of an historic property. Work, including preliminary measures to protect and stabilize the property, generally focuses upon the ongoing maintenance and repair of historic materials and features rather than extensive replacement and new construction. New exterior additions are not within the scope of this treatment; however, the limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a preservation project.

        (II) Rehabilitation is defined as the act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations, and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural, or architectural values.

        (III) Restoration is defined as the act or process of accurately depicting the form, features, and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods in its history and reconstruction of missing features from the restoration period. The limited and sensitive upgrading of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems and other code-required work to make properties functional is appropriate within a restoration project.

        (IV) Reconstruction is defined as the act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form features, and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure, or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location.

      (ii) General standards for historic preservation projects.

        (I) A property shall be used as it was historically, or be given a new use that maximizes the retention of distinctive materials, features, spaces, and spatial relationships. Where a treatment and use have not been identified, a property shall be protected and, if necessary, stabilized until additional work may be undertaken.

        (II) The historic character of a property shall be retained and preserved. The replacement of intact or repairable historic materials or alteration of features, spaces, and spatial relationships that characterize a property shall be avoided.

        (III) Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place and use. Work needed to stabilize, consolidate, and conserve existing historic materials and features shall be physically and visually compatible, identifiable upon close inspection, and properly documented for future research.

        (IV) Changes to a property that have acquired historic significance in their own right shall be retained and preserved.

        (V) Distinctive materials, features, finishes, and construction techniques or examples of craftsmanship that characterize a property shall be preserved.

        (VI) The existing condition of historic features shall be evaluated to determine the appropriate level of intervention needed. Where the severity of deterioration requires repair or limited replacement of a distinctive feature, the new material shall match the old in composition, design, color, and texture.

        (VII) Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, shall be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials shall not be used.


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