Muņoz, Jr., Sergio
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 04/30/2014
HIDALGO COUNTY'S ORIGINAL COURTHOUSE AWARDED $450,000 IN RESTORATION FUNDS
FORT WORTH, TX – State Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr. is proud to announce that the City of Hidalgo has been awarded $450,000 to restore Hidalgo County's original courthouse in Hidalgo Texas. The grant award comes after legislative action by Rep. Muñoz which authorized municipalities that own historic courthouses to be eligible for the Historic Courthouse Preservation Program. The legislation, HB 3674, passed during the 2013 session, was authored by Muñoz and sponsored in the Senate by Senator Juan Hinojosa.
"It was without reservation that we recommended funding for the City of Hidalgo’s grant application to the Texas Historical Commission," said Muñoz. "The funds will be used to fully restore the 1886 Hidalgo County Courthouse to its original appearance and configuration, to reconstruct all the historic features, and to stabilize the existing structure from further deterioration. I could not be more pleased and proud of our partnership with the City of Hidalgo and of the outcome of the legislation we passed and the grant funds awarded."
Municipalities had previously been locked-out of the Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, even though there are examples of historic county courthouses that are no longer owned the associated county. The flaw in the preservation program law was brought to the attention of the Legislature by the City of Hidalgo and the Valley delegation was quick to act on the fix.
The city will now be able to further develop the attributes of the Hidalgo Viejo Historic District. Providing the means necessary to restoring the 1886 Hidalgo County Courthouse to its former magnificence will enable reconstruction of missing attributes, including the second floor, tower, and cupola, which were lost in an early 1900 fire.
The 1886 Hidalgo County Courthouse is part of the Courthouse Complex at the center of the Hidalgo Viejo Historic District. The Courthouse Complex and its four structures have designations such as Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and listings on the National Register of Historic Places because of their local, state, and national significance, and the Courthouse Complex and specifically the 1886 Hidalgo County Courthouse is the birthplace of the County of Hidalgo.
The City of Hidalgo is proud of its local history and its place in the history of the Rio Grande Valley. In 1848, with the area now part of Texas the United States, Scottish-born merchant John Young founded a town site on Spanish land grants as a trading post and ferry landing opposite Reynosa, Mexico. Originally named Edinburg, the town's name was changed to Hidalgo in 1876 in honor of the Mexican patriot, Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, for whom Hidalgo County is also named. The county was formed in 1852 and Hidalgo remained its only town until 1905, serving as county seat from 1852 until 1908.
In recent years, the City of Hidalgo has taken several steps to preserve its history. Under the Mercado de Hidalgo Viejo initiative, Hidalgo seeks to build a prosperous economic future by preserving its legacy. Part of this legacy is the 1886 County Courthouse. Restoring the 1886 Courthouse will require remodeling the first floor, constructing a new addition for the second floor, and recreating the historic look with the addition of the third level cupola.
The City of Hidalgo plans to transform the 1886 County Courthouse into a Visitor Welcome Center facility. The design and construction will conform to the recommendations of the Texas Historical Commission. The materials will resemble the materials that were historically available, but the building will not be made to appear falsely historic. As the project is within the historic district and near historic landmarks, every possible measure will be taken to abide by historic preservation policy and guidelines of the State of Texas. Local materials will be used to preserve the unique South Texas history, culture, appeal and heritage. The Visitor Welcome Center facility will connect with the Hike and Bike Trial and pose as the first stop of visitors arriving and departing from the International Bridge on US 281.
RICHARD P. SANCHEZ