OLD NUECES COUNTY COURTHOUSE


A Brief History: The Old Nueces County Courthouse is located at 1100 North Mequite Street in Corpus Christi Texas. Construction of the now abandoned Nueces County Courthouse was completed in 1914. However, this was not the original courthouse in Corpus Christi, a town with a rich and rowdy history associated with its coastal trading. Commanche, outlaws, and Mexican banditos from an adjacent frontier brought frequent raids to Corpus Christi. It was clear the town needed a law force, which was founded and included local sheriffs and the famous Texas Rangers. These lawmen helped to bring order and peace to this area. By the early 1850s, after the town’s incorporation, plans were set to being construction on what would be the first of eventually 5 courthouses to serve the Corpus Christi area. The current 1914-built courthouse is the 4thof 5 courthouse structures. Designed in 1913 by Harvey Page, the courthouse was originally a t-shaped building. In 1930, a west wing addition created today’s cross-shape. The 6-story building houses many offices and courtrooms. The basement housed mechanical equipment, justice courts and offices. The 2ndfloor consists of the county courtroom and offices. The 3rdfloor is primarily taken up by 3 large district courts. Various offices fill the 4thfloor. The jail was housed on the 5thfloor.

The courthouse housed many people through the 20thcentury and some through the 1950s. Jailers and their families resided in apartments on the 5thfloor, while county officials lives part-time/permanently on the 4th, 3rd, and 2ndfloors. Many county offices were moved out of the courthouse due to crowded conditions during World War II. During its operation, the courthouse served as a refuge during many storms. During a powerful storm in 1919, after severe flooding receded, piles of bodies were recovered in the basement.


It is reported that hundreds of residents who sought refuge in the tallest, strongest building in the area for its time lived among the dead under terrible conditions while trying to survive. Widespread death was also noted when Yellow Fever swept through the Corpus Christi area. As late as 1961, hundreds of citizens sought food and shelter in the courthouse during Hurricane Carla.

The 1914 County Courthouse was officially retired in 1977 when the new facility was completed just a few miles today where it is currently in use. Within the old courthouse, the gallows can be found still standing on the top floor. These were never used, though executions were carried out within the state via the electric chair. The courthouse currently sits abandoned surrounded by fencing. Local lawmakers and officials have debated what to do with the historic building. It has been protected from demolition by a Texas Historical Commission covenant since 2006, at which time a $1.5 million grant to stabilize the crumbling building and erect a fence to protect from vandals. The covenant and protection expire in 2027. As of 5/14/2019, the Texas Historical Commission approved a $150,000 grant for the stabilization and reuse of the decaying building. Conversations began 5/4/2020 to determine the price and design process to repair the building’s exterior, which is noted to be desperately needed. A historical architect has also been consulted to determine what is necessary to preserve the building, and ultimately turn it into a historical tourist attraction. No concrete plans have been announced.+


Haunted History: There are reports of hearing voices and screams from passersby on the streets coming from the decaying building, as well as reports of faces peering between planks on the boarded windows.