BELTON — Twenty years have passed since the Bell County Courthouse’s restoration was undertaken.
From 1998 to 1999, the Commissioners Court restored the building back to its 1884 glory. They brought back the building’s statue, dome and clock tower that were on the courthouse when it was complete in 1884, and renovated the interior.
But, Commissioner Tim Brown said, there are still a few architectural details missing from the Bell County landmark’s façade.
The Commissioners Court on Monday took the first step toward completing the courthouse restoration. They are seeking a $44,900 grant from the Texas Historical Commission to update the Bell County Courthouse’s master plan.
The grant is part of the commission’s Round X program that helps counties restore their courthouses. This past year, the Texas Historical Commission awarded $19.7 million in grants to 15 counties, according to a news release issued in April.
“This is a grant to update the master plan to be able to submit for financial assistance later for some work on the building itself,” Brown said. “It’s a necessary step. It’s been several years since we’ve done (an update) so the master plan needs to be updated. This is an opportunity to get some help in doing that.”
The Commissioners Court set aside $5,000 as a match for the grant.
Once the county updates the courthouse master plan, it can seek additional funding to add the finishing touches to the building.
Bell County Judge Jon Burrows said the Texas Historical Commission notified the commissioners of this grant.
Brown is optimistic Bell County can secure funding for the master plan update. He explained that the commission has funded most of the major eligible courthouse renovation.
“Now they’re being a little more generous in their allocation of those funds for other kinds of projects,” Brown said. “We may have a better chance of our project qualify. It’s definitely a step we need to take to ask for funds later on.”