The Bexar County Courthouse is getting a $12-million facelift as portions of the historic structure that have been hidden for decades will finally be revealed in about a year.
The first section of what is known as the "Gondek addition" was built onto the 1896 Romanesque Revival structure in 1963, and a second phase was added
in 1970. The squared-off, windowless multi-story tower was a low-cost solution to a growing problem of overcrowding.
Bexar County spokeswoman Laura Jesse says the plan was never for the mid-century modern structure to be a permanent solution.
"The thought back then was that the county would build a new structure, which they did in the 80s which is the Cadena Reeves Justice Center, and then we have the Paul Elizondo Tower that was recently constructed," Jesse said. "So once we got all of that space constructed, then the facilities manager said that we could bring the Gondek addition down."
Construction crews have begun tearing out the ramp at the basement entrance and the wrap-around on the west side of the building.
Jesse said once the project is complete, the public will have a full view of the entire sandstone surface of the original courthouse for the first time in half a century.
“Some of it will need to be restored, but it is in pretty good condition," Jesse said. "It’s been protected from the elements."
The original Bexar County Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is the oldest – and largest – continuously operating courthouse in the state.
ADA NOTE: The ADA accessible entrance to the Bexar County Courthouse has moved to the north end of the Courthouse on Dolorosa. The VIA Trans drop-off location has moved from Nueva Street to Dolorosa Street in front of the Cadena-Reeves Justice Center.