Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Documentary covers Donley courthouse

The 1890 Donley County Courthouse will be featured in a documentary airing on PBS stations in Texas sometime next year.

Texas Foundation of the Arts President Jim Bailey and a cameraman were in Clarendon last Friday to film the Romanesque Revival style structure, which was the subject of a $3.9 million restoration between 2000 and 2003.

Bailey said a colleague at Texas Tech University had recommended he visit the local building and had called it “one of the finest courthouses in West Texas.”

Bailey and Sunset Productions have already made two documentaries on Texas courthouses. The first was 30 minutes long and featured 20 courthouses, and the second ran 60 minutes and covered 30 buildings. This latest documentary will also be 30 minutes but will feature only restored courthouses that were built during the Victorian Era up through the 1920s.

“A lot of people say, ‘Why don’t you do City Hall or municipal buildings?’ But there’s just something about the courthouse,” Bailey said. “In many ways it really is the capitol of the county. In the early days, every county tried to out do its neighbor’s courthouse.”

Bailey also said that many people don’t appreciate the importance or the appearance of something that is such a part of their lives everyday.

“It’s like one county judge whose courthouse burned told me, you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone,” Bailey said.

Production on the third documentary is expected to continue through next spring.

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