An Evening with the Courthouses
Welcome back to the LEAP Blog! Hopefully, you had a great winter break and you are ready to follow us throughout what we hope will be an amazing Spring 2016 journey! Our first stop of the year took us to the Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas to speak with Brantley Hightower, who wrote The Courthouses of Central Texas.
While teaching a course on Architecture, Hightower was inspired by some of the work of his students to explore the different architectural designs and meanings of the courthouse of central Texas. The courthouse, he explained, was for much of Texas’s history, the main meeting place for most areas in Texas. As such, its look and materials and spaces reflected the values of that area.
Although an architect, Hightower was a skilled presented, perhaps reflecting his prior work in teaching and also his interest in the topic.
As an architect, Hightower was interested not only in the look of the buildings, but also some of their technical features, and he described different techniques that the builders of these courthouses used in yesteryear to cool the structures and their occupants. Through the use of courtyards or cupolas that promoted air circulation, courthouses could reduce the temperature by 17-18 degrees.
Mr. Hightower also discussed some of the shifts sociologically that have resulted in a transformation of courthouses. In the late 19th century or early 20th century, the courthouse was a structure that expressed the aspirations of a community: it towered over other buildings, it was grand, and it was beautiful, or at least distinguished. But as time has marched on, people have moved to cities; City Hall has become the focal point of local government moreso than counties. Moreover, citizens look to government for more functional purposes today rather than for the symbolic expressions of community will and aspirations.
The presentation was interesting, a prismatic look at the functions and aesthetics of government buildings, and we hope to have the opportunity to meet with Mr. Hightower again.
The Black Walnut Café definitely lived up to its wonderful reviews and reputation. With a smooth, sleek, and wood-laden design the aromas of the kitchen captivated our taste buds! Some of us went with soup, others with pasta, and one with an evening omelet, however, the two standout dishes of the night were the all American cheeseburger and the “North of the Border Fajita Tacos”.
Of course, we did have to some delicious Gelato ice cream!
After following in the ways of our courthouse founders, with fellowship over a meal, we headed back to Huntsville to continue our prep for our upcoming events!
See You Next Time,