JESUS F. DE LA TEJA, Editor
Old Friends: Great Texas Courthouses. By Bill Morgan. (Fort Worth: Landmark
Publishing, Inc., 1999. Pp. 155. Preface, acknowledgments. ISBN o-
9667999-4-1. $55.00, cloth.)
The Courthouse Square in Texas. By Robert E. Veselka, edited by Kenneth E. Foote.
(Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000. Pp xii+244. Foreword, appendix,
bibliography, index. ISBN 0-292-78736-7. $25.95, paper.)
Perhaps you know one. Chances are good that one lives in your neighbor-
hood. This person may travel for business during the week, or disappear every
weekend in a vehicle you've noticed steadily deteriorating from hard miles
under the West Texas sun and facial plasters of East Texas love bugs. Before
boosters coined the title "heritage tourist," this person was one, obsessed with
photographing, admiring, and otherwise personally witnessing each courthouse
in all 254 Texas counties.
Two new books are available for these courthouse list checkers, and for the
rest of us who have a sentimental favorite or enjoy vicariously this incredible col-
lection of vintage architecture flung far across the state. Writer and commercial
artist Bill Morgan's Old Friends: Great Texas Courthouses showcases seventy-one his-
toric examples in a style that trims the trees, cars and business districts away to
focus on the fine details of each building. The late Robert Veselka's The
Courthouse Square zn Texas (edited for publication by his friend Kenneth Foote)
deals directly with those business districts that surround most courthouses,
through exhaustive detail on various county seat town plans and development
patterns, and their fulfillment in every corner of the state.
Morgan's work is apparently based on several years of his courthouse calendar
productions, following seven years of travel to county seats and brush work in his
studio. The artist/author does not describe his medium, but his generous hori-
zontal format combines a highly detailed pen-and-ink framework for each court-
house, seemingly delineating each brick and stone, with brilliant watercolors
that highlight the broad palette of finish materials on his examples.
Morgan devotes an entire page of enlightening text opposite each courthouse
illustration. He utilizes a fresh journalistic style to describe the building and its his-
tory, mixing recent quotes from local citizens with facts from various sources. An
appendix records a poll he conducted during his calendar issues, where pur-
chasers named their favorite Texas courthouses. Ellis County's 1896 temple in
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed April 24, 2015.