From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
June 16, 1999
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124

Governor Signs Fraser Bill For Historical Texas Courthouse Restoration

AUSTIN --- Governor George W. Bush today signed legislation authored by Senator Troy Fraser allowing the Texas Historical Commission to grant or loan money for the restoration of up to 225 historical courthouses throughout Texas.

Fraser's bill provides the legal basis for state funds to be appropriated by creating a Historical Courthouse Preservation Fund. The Legislature last month approved a $50 million appropriation from the state's general revenue fund to start restoration projects in the fiscal 2000-2001 biennium that begins September 1.

"These historical courthouses are an important part of our past, and I thank Governor Bush for signing the bill into law," Fraser said. "I share the Governor's passion for these wonderful landmarks to be restored to their original grandeur. We've already heard from many county officials and historical preservationists who are eager to get started."

Under the bill, the Texas Historical Commission will determine criteria for awarding grant funds for the restoration projects, with preferences given to courthouses owned by counties and that actually function as a courthouse.

Courthouse owners would be expected to provide at least 15 percent of the restoration project's cost, and that percentage could include in-kind contributions as well as previous expenditures for master planning and renovations, Fraser said.

The Texas Historical Commission is also authorized to consider other factors in determining whether to grant an application for funding, including the architectural style and historical significance of the courthouse.

County governments will determine the scope and scale of the restoration projects, Fraser said.

Grants for courthouse projects may not exceed $4 million, or 2 percent of the amount appropriated by the Texas Legislature for the program.

Fraser noted that in June 1998, the National Trust for Historic Preservation added 225 historic courthouses -- which are at least 50 years old -- to its annual list of endangered historic places.

"The National Trust concluded that historic Texas courthouses are national treasures threatened by neglect, deterioration, lack of maintenance, insufficient funds, inappropriate development and insensitive public policy," Fraser said. "This listing affirmed the timeliness of Governor Bush's Texas Courthouse Preservation Initiative and I was more than happy to marshal the bill through the Senate."