COMPLETED IN 1914 at a cost of $250,000, the old Nueces County Courthouse is the only example of neo-classical architecture in South Texas. The building houses 3 courtrooms and many offices; a jail is located on the upper two floors. I’ve heard they used to hang people in the jail through a trap door which dropped down into the kitchen (of all places). Indeed I did find such a metal door...

The courthouse was built extremely solidly and has withstood a number of major hurricanes and now stubbornly holds out after several decades of ill will from the locals, many of whom consider it a terrible eyesore and occasionaly clamor to have it torn down. The building was abandoned in 1977, and despite several different almost-attempts to restore it, sits vacant and alone today.

However, the courthouse has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. And because of some deed covenant, it can’t legally be demolished until 2018. Also—after the last owner ran up a $700,000 bill for unpaid property taxes—the building is now back under the control of the county, which is trying to find funds to partially restore, or at the least mothball the building.

Location: USA / Texas / Corpus Christi

Photography: Fall 2001