Travis County Probate Court
In 2016, Travis County acquired the 1936 U.S. Courthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, from the U.S. General Services Administration after federal judicial activities were relocated to a new federal courthouse. The County wished to rehabilitate the building to house its Probate Courts.
The PWA Moderne building’s character-defining Art Deco- and Art Moderne-inspired interiors were largely intact and required careful attention. The project involved restoring the wood panels, doors, and benches, marble-clad walls, light fixtures, metal finishes, and bathroom fixtures. New courtrooms, jury assembly areas, judges’ chambers, and administrative offices welcome the new occupants.
New mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems were carefully integrated into the rehabilitated interiors. Metal detectors, required for today’s security measures, were relocated from the lobby to an adjacent space and a new glass vestibule at the front doors directs visitors to the new security area. This change allowed the lobby to be fully restored without the visual impact of the security equipment.
The project included the cleaning, repointing and repair of the limestone building façade and installation of a new roof. The historic steel windows, more than 160 in number, had been removed and replaced with non-matching aluminum sash, leaving only the original frames in place. Hazardous material abatement was required after testing revealed that the frames and supports contained lead. New window sash were replicated to match the historic window design but utilizing aluminum as a cost-saving measure. The existing steel frames were restored, along with the decorative cast iron spandrel panels that separate the vertical bands of windows. A crowning feature is the restoration of the prominent, roof-mounted flag pole, which had been removed, but now allows the flag to once again fly above the building.