Bellville, TX Courthouse Fire, Apr 1960

Austin Cty TEX court house 4-5-1960.jpg Austin Cty TEX court house fire 4-5-1960.jpg Austin County Courthouse, Bellville, TX late 1950s


Bellville (AP) -- An early morning fire destroyed the Austin County Courthouse built in 1888.
Flames from the three-story structure could be seen 10 miles away, said FRANZ W. ZEISKE, owner of the Bellville Times.
Fire fighting equipment from Brenham, Sealy, Wallis and Rosenberg helped fight the blaze. Bellville is about 60 miles west of Houston.
ZEISKE said courthouse records were kept in steel vaults and they were thought to have been saved.
The fire was discovered about 2:30 a.m. and by 4:30 the blaze was under control.
The courthouse was located in a plaza in the center of this town of about 3,000. Flames did not spread to any other buildings.
Cause of the fire was not known and an estimate of the loss had not been made early today.

Abilene Reporter News Texas 1960-04-05

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Courthouse At Bellville Destroyed

BELLVILLE, Texas (AP)---An early morning fire of undetermined origin destroyed the 72-year-old Austin County courthouse here Tuesday.

The flames broke out in the 3-story building at 2:30 a.m. and could be seen 10 miles away. Firemen from Brenham, Sealy, Wallis and Rosenburg aided in fighting the fire.

Publisher Franz W. Zeiske of the Bellville Times said county records were kept in steel vaults and most were thought to have been saved.

Bellville is 60 miles west of Houston.

"All we know is it started somewhere around the center of the building." Sheriff T. A. Maddox said, "It may have started from bad electric wiring or something of that nature."

Austin County was one of the first established. It was the scene of settlement of part of the "old 300," the first families in the colony of Stephen F. Austin.

The courthouse was a 3-story brick and plaster structure. The fire collapsed the building's roof and left only the frame standing.

Maddox said office space would have to be secured from different sections of Bellville for use by judges and clerks. The sheriff's office will be moved to the courthouse.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, TX 6 Apr 1960