Smith County is working to formulate a plan for a new Smith County Courthouse. Before a plan is presented to voters, we are working to gather public input on whether you agree that a new courthouse is needed, where it should go, what factors for consideration are most important to you, and what questions or comments you might have. The intended timeline is to present an initial plan in the spring of 2020, hold additional public meetings throughout the summer of 2020, to ensure the citizens have full and accurate information, and call for a vote on a proposed plan for the November 2020 election date.
Citizen Input Survey
To finalize a plan, Smith County is considering the findings of the past courthouse studies, along with the public's input.
Please tell us what you think. To take the brief Courthouse Citizen Input Survey, click here.
To take the Courthouse Citizen Input Survey in Spanish: Survey in Spanish
To view potential county-owned sites for a new courthouse, click here.
Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran and Commissioners held Smith County Courthouse Citizen Input Meetings in each precinct of the county throughout November. They included:
- November 4, Lindale High School Cafeteria, Precinct 3, Commissioner Terry Phillips, 14 people attended.
- November 7, First Baptist Church Whitehouse, Precinct 2 Commissioner Cary Nix, 15 people attended.
- November 12, Bullard City Hall, Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Warr, 38 people attended.
- November 18, St. Louis Baptist Church in Tyler, Precinct 4 Commissioner JoAnn Hampton, 24 people attended.
Using input from the community will help county officials formulate a plan. Once a plan is created, it will be presented to the community for more input during another round of meetings.
Over the past 20 years, numerous studies have been conducted to assess the needs of the courthouse and the judiciary, and offer suggestions on possible solutions. To view these studies, click on the links below.
- 2000 - Courthouse Needs Assessment
- 2007 - Jail and Justice Facilities Plan
- 2016 - Carlton Building Study
- 2019 - Engineering Analysis
Each of those studies have reached the same conclusion--that construction of a new courthouse and associated parking structure are needed to accommodate the growth, logistic and security needs of the county's judicial system. Although many possible solutions have been proffered, a formal plan has never been presented to the public for a vote. This will happen in 2020, and the community will get to decide what happens with the Smith County Courthouse.
The Story of Our Courthouses
History of Previous Smith County Courthouses
The first Smith County Courthouse was a log cabin on West Erwin Street in 1846. A year later, a new courthouse was constructed of logs on East Ferguson. In 1848, a 520-square-foot log courthouse was built on the square.
The county prospered and in 1852, the first brick courthouse was built in the center of the square. The log courthouse was moved and used as the jail. The courthouse was remodeled and expanded, and was used for 57 years (until 1908).
In 1910, county officials held a dedication for the courthouse commonly remembered in Smith County. Located in the center of downtown, where Broadway Avenue now runs, it was known for its beauty. It was used for 45 years before it was demolished and replaced with the current courthouse. (The picture of the former courthouse is from the Smith County Historical Society Archives, R.L. Falkner Collection).
History of Current Smith County Courthouse
The current Smith County Courthouse was dedicated in 1955, and has been in use for 64 years.
The six-story facility was constructed to house two district courts, two justice of the peace courts, the jail and various county offices.
The courthouse currently houses four district courts, three county courts-at-law, the District Clerk’s Office, the District Attorney’s Office, the Smith County Law Library and court staff.