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AFOLguy1970

MOC: Lee County Courthouse Giddings, TX

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Lee County Courthouse 1899

The following MOC is a rendition of the Lee County Courthouse in Giddings, Texas. It was designed by J. Riely Gordon, an architect who designed many of Texas’ courthouses. The structure is built in Richardsonian Romanesque style. I have visited over 100 of the county courthouses in the state and hope to one day see them all. Obviously, the historic ones are of most interest, and I wanted to choose one to build in Lego form. The idea was to build one that was historic and had been photographed for comparison. The chosen one could neither be too easy to build nor be too difficult. This courthouse in Giddings fit the bill, so I designed it in Lego Digital Designer and began to acquire the parts. It took about a year and two months from the first parts gathered to placing the tower on top of the model.

2647797336_f8b244fbd6.jpgLee County Courthouse by stevesheriw, on Flickr

The actual courthouse

16296873896_a678c099cb.jpgLego Lee County Courthouse by stevesheriw, on Flickr

15702930483_27e620f791.jpgLego Lee County Courthouse by stevesheriw, on Flickr

The model

Overall the Lego model consists of over 9000 parts. More will probably be added as I tinker with it and maybe add some more interior features. There are two main differences between the model and the real courthouse. First of all, the interior is entirely different. Had I imitated the real one, the stairwell would have been in the center, and therefore each of the rooms would have been relatively small. Although the exterior is the main focus, I did want the option of having an interior complete with a courtroom and some other chambers. By moving the stairway to the side, I could construct a main chamber for a courtroom. The interior is entirely my design and will not match the actual interior of the real building. The second big difference is that the tower is much larger to scale on my model than on the actual building. Having a larger tower allowed me to give it more detail than I could have otherwise done with a smaller one. It also allows the courthouse to dominate other modulars I may have in size. Texans are very proud of their courthouses, and they are often the structure of most architectural interest in a county seat. This one is built in modular style from the ground up. It separates into five sections. There are three floors with rooms on each level, a roof level, and the tower level. There are no connecting pins to attach to other modulars. This is purposely done, because most of the courthouses are not attached to other buildings. In fact, they are often the center of the town square. In Texas, it is usually the courthouse, and not the city hall, that receives the focus in the town plan. Many are surrounded by landscape on the main town square, and perhaps I will gradually produce some for this one.

The first level introduces four entrances to the building. Note the archways that give the courthouse its Romanesque features. Near one entrance is a dark tan brick rather than a red one. This is the cornerstone, and the only piece that my wife assembled on this structure. The structure is symmetrical on one axis. At first glance, the courthouse may appear to have be separable into four equal chunks, however one side is different than the other. One side will have three arches over the entrances, while the other side will have four. One of the wings is also longer than the other three. To round out some of the structure, hinge plates were used. I enjoyed trying to find a way to make sure the courthouse was not simply 90 degree angles. On the inside, there are plenty of supports to make the structure stable, and there are several rooms with a hallway accessing each of them. Be sure to visit the security officer and have him wand you at the metal detector! One room contains the stairway. The center room is still being furnished, although I have added some features. This is the records room, where you file for a court appearance, or perhaps pay for your speeding ticket. The other rooms are to date unfurnished, although I will probably eventually have a copier room, a justice of the peace office, and a polling place in the larger wing. Many a courthouse has been used in a general election as the polling place.

13114205535_cf3ce357a2.jpgLower level by stevesheriw, on Flickr

13114176425_c113540ebf.jpgPorch by stevesheriw, on Flickr

13114449754_8f1ff12042.jpgPorch by stevesheriw, on Flickr

The second level contains the courtroom itself. The stairwell brings you up to an antechamber. There are doors accessing two porches to the outside. Benches are provided as the verdict is awaited. The main chamber is of course the courtroom. There are seats for family members and other interested parties. Two tables are provided for the attorneys, the plaintiff, and the defendant. In front is the witness stand and the judge’s bench, and the flags of the United States and Texas stand behind them. A jury box is included. Behind the box is another room: the jury deliberation room. There is seating for a jury of six members. Lego towns usually do not have violent crimes, therefore a jury of six will typically suffice. The other currently empty room will eventually become the judges chamber. One other thing to note: my visit to the actual Lee County Courthouse revealed that all of the windows had shades halfway drawn down. I chose to imitate this in the model, and you will see window shades on the three main levels. It added to the piece count, but details make the building more special.

15802627023_b7fd3ee9fe.jpgSecond Level by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16421737832_7f88367717.jpgThe bench by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16422636815_4d31f66034.jpgJury room by stevesheriw, on Flickr

The third level is where the stairs terminate. I have added some rooms I felt would be useful in a courthouse. Here is the breakroom with a couple of vending machines. There is also a bathroom. Lego has not made an effort to recognize that restrooms typically come in pairs, and I too have chosen to just have one bathroom. It does have two toilet stalls and sinks. Finally, I can get the pressure off the lonely bathroom in the Pet Shop. One room has a spiral staircase leading to the roof level. Another chamber has a fireplace, mainly to line up with the roof chimney. Back in the day, this is probably how documents were destroyed. Other rooms are still empty awaiting a purpose.

16135407490_f15cd54feb.jpgThird level by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16137012517_90685844c1.jpgBreakroom by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16322887245_df4ea172d1.jpgRestroom by stevesheriw, on Flickr

The roof level is fairly straight forward. There are lots of white slopes here. The central chamber is accessible, and a trap door has been installed to access the spiral staircase below it.

16296862956_7eee9e780c.jpgRoof level by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16135241658_74c7cdcae7.jpgRoof section by stevesheriw, on Flickr

Finally, we have the tower. This gives the courthouse a commanding height, and makes it visible from all over town. There are four clock faces, one on each side. I preferred to have these brick built for the sake of detail. Later on, I might tinker with the clock hands and make them more maneuverable.

15744508264_0b8da60615.jpgTower Level by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16180740319_5b9c13e4b6.jpgTower Level by stevesheriw, on Flickr

This is the first MOC I have “completed”. Now begins the tinkering phase, which lasts from now to the rest of my life as I make minor changes here and there. Tiling some more surfaces and furnishing some more rooms will likely be among future improvements. Also, I hope to take the Lego model to the real one and have them photographed together. That would be fun! Oddly enough, Lee County is between Fayette County, where my Mom lives, and Washington County, where my mother-in-law lives. Therefore, the courthouse will probably be in the back of the car for the next family visit. Thank you for reading all of this!

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Excellent work capturing the original aesthetic and design detail in your work. The curved elements to your build are brilliantly done!

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Very well done, impressive build.

And very nice description of the build and reasoning of design choices aswell, really enjoyed reading that :)

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Thank you all for the replies! My hope is to take the model to Lee County over President's Day weekend if the weather forecast is good. Perhaps I can post a location photo soon.

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I think you captured the shape very well. My complaint would be, it should be dark orange instead of red :wink: .

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I think you captured the shape very well. My complaint would be, it should be dark orange instead of red :wink: .

Definitely would be a nice color for the courthouse. Only issues would be the high cost of parts and also some of the parts do not exist in that color

As an update, I was fortunate enough to visit the real courthouse with the model. The kind staff even let me bring it to the bench in the courtroom. Here are some photos from the visit. They are making emergency renovations on a couple of floors right now. They would like me to bring it back when the courthouse is rededicated. Hopefully, this will help the Texas Historical Commission stimulate awareness in their program to restore historic courthouses statewide.

16532688285_eb99886190.jpgLee County Courthouse by stevesheriw, on Flickr

16532777765_2d2b14164d.jpgLee County Courthouse by stevesheriw, on Flickr

15912767633_4803569b64.jpgLee County Courthouse by stevesheriw, on Flickr

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