Word by Glen Farris, Pictures by Will Milne
It had been a while since we had last visited The Courthouse Museum on the Square. Shame on us, too, because the free-to-enter museum has become really awesome in the past few years. Recently, the museum has unveiled it’s newest wing aimed at educating visitors on the history of Texas and on the first land deals that settled in North Texas, the Peters Colony. The wing features large pen and ink drawings by local artist and museum curator, Joe Duncan. Didn’t know our beautiful and ominous courthouse had a museum inside? You're not alone. Heck, we hear about Dentonites that have lived here for decades and never even stepped foot inside the building once. Let's change that. Go explore this beautiful structure that is the centerpiece of the living room of Denton next time you're on the courthouse lawn. We like it so much, we developed a list of seven reasons why you should do so.
Here are a few reasons to go explore the courthouse:
1. It’s always free and open to the public from 8am until 4pm Monday through Friday.
2. The courthouse is full of antique weapons, guns, knives, dueling pistols, rifles, shotguns, grenades, mortar shells, you name it. Many of which are on display.
3. There's an actual working county commissioners court on the second floor. So if you ever wanna go complain about things like road quality, you know where to go.
4. On the second floor of the courthouse, you'll find what is possibly the cleanest public bathroom in downtown Denton, and a glaring omission from our controversial Take A Seat post.
5. The basement is literally a dungeon where they used to keep outlaws as they awaited the gallows and may or may not have tunnels connecting all the important buildings downtown. Yes, seriously.
6. You might learn something about the difference between the City of Denton and Denton County. Yes, there is a difference. City of Denton is in County of Denton like the Solar System is in The Milky Way. Oh, and there's plenty more than that.
7. The building was erected in 1895 or 1896 depending on whether you go off the cities website or the inscription carved into the granite it’s built out of (we’re going with the latter), this building was an inspiration to our most well known local architect, O’Neil Ford, who was responsible for City Hall, The Civic Center, and the Little Chapel In The Woods among others.
So the next time you grab a blanket and a bottle for a picnic, the drumming in the drum circle or the cover bands blasting from the patio of LSA get to be a little too much for you, take a moment and head into the courthouse. Explore a little bit and maybe you’ll learn something you didn’t know about the history of our county.