The Courthouse Square in Texas

The Courthouse Square in Texas

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Description

With its dignified courthouse set among shade trees and lawns dotted with monuments to prominent citizens and fallen veterans, the courthouse square remains the civic center in a majority of the county seats of Texas. Yet the squares themselves vary in form and layout, reflecting the different town-planning traditions that settlers brought from Europe, Mexico, and the United States. In fact, one way to trace settlement patterns and ethnic dispersion in Texas is by mapping the different types of courthouse squares.



This book offers the first complete inventory of Texas courthouse squares, drawn from extensive archival research and site visits to 139 of the 254 county seats. Robert Veselka classifies every existing plan by type and origin, including patterns and variants not previously identified. He also explores the social and symbolic functions of these plans as he discusses the historical and modern uses of the squares. He draws interesting new conclusions about why the courthouse square remains the hub of commercial and civic activity in the smaller county seats, when it has lost its prominence in others.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 260 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 18.29mm | 765g
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • English
  • 108 b&w illus., 32 tables
  • 0292787367
  • 9780292787360

Back cover copy

With its dignified courthouse set among shade trees and lawns dotted with monuments to prominent citizens and fallen veterans, the courthouse square remains the civic center in a majority of the county seats of Texas. Yet the squares themselves vary in form and layout, reflecting the different town-planning traditions that settlers brought from Europe, Mexico, and the United States. In fact, one way to trace settlement patterns and ethnic dispersion in Texas is by mapping the different types of courthouse squares.This book offers the first complete inventory of Texas courthouse squares, drawn from extensive archival research and site visits to 139 of the 254 county seats. Robert Veselka classifies every existing plan by type and origin, including patterns and variants not previously identified. He also explores the social and symbolic functions of these plans as he discusses the historical and modern uses of the squares. He draws interesting new conclusions about why the courthouse square remains the hub of commercial and civic activity in the smaller county seats, when it has lost its prominence in others.
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Table of contents

Foreword



The Courthouse Square in Texas
From Land Policy to County Seats and Squares
Anglo-American Courthouse Squares
Origins of the Anglo-American Courthouse Squares
Squares Derived from Spanish Precedents and Other Planning Traditions
Origins of Squares Derived from Spanish Precedents and Other Planning Traditions
The Centripetal Role of the Courthouse Square
Symbolism and Social Activity at the Courthouse Square
Afterword



Appendix 1. Texas Counties and County Seats
Appendix 2. Block Patterns, Features, and Roles of Texas Courthouse Squares
Appendix 3. A Note on Sources and Methods
Bibliography
Index
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Review quote

"This book breaks new ground in the interpretation of Texas townscapes... It could serve as a 'field guide' to Texas courthouse squares." oRichard V. Francaviglia, author of Main Street Revisited: Time, Space, and Image Building in Small Town America
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About Robert E. Veselka

The late Dr. Robert E. Veselka was a professional geographer and native Texan with lifelong interests in the state's architecture, landscape, and history.
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