County courthouse earns prestigious award
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Nov. 30, 2004 -- Hopkins County Courthouse has been selected by the East Texas Historical Association to receive the 2005 Lucille Terry Historic Preservation Award and to join the ranks of some of the most prestigious buildings in East Texas, according to Dr. Jeffrey Owens, professor of history at Tyler Junior College and Sulphur Springs native, who nominated the historic building for the award.

In a letter to Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap Monday, Dr. Owens offered his congratulations to the county.

"I feel that ya'll are very deserving of the award," Owens wrote. "I am very pleased that the association agreed."

County officials said the work of restoring the courthouse and the award put the county in the spotlight.

"It is a very prestigious award among historians in East Texas," Millsap said after learning of the award. "It is such an honor to receive such an award for this great facility we have here."

Commissioner Beth Wisenbaker, who served as primary liaison for the commissioners court during the lengthy restoration project on the building, called the recognition a tremendous honor.

"There were a tremendous amount of good projects out there," she said. "That we got it is just awesome. I am so proud of the people of Hopkins County for taking a big step forward and restoring our courthouse."

Along with a trophy, the greatest reward for the courthouse, as the recipient of the historical award, is the prestige of joining a distinguished list of some of the most historic buildings in East Texas.

"The criteria are pretty rigorous," Dr. Owens said. "There is only one given per year for an area that covers almost 30 counties."

The trophy given with the award is of a "dog-trot" log cabin that was specially commissioned by the historic association, and each is an original casting.

The award will be the first ever for this particular area. The closest is the "Ace of Clubs" house in Texarkana.

"Hopkins County is now back in the limelight because of what we have done on this courthouse," Millsap said. "I am just very pleased and excited that we will be accepting this award in February."

"I have always loved the courthouse since I was a child," Dr. Owens said. "When I got on the committee and saw that we needed a nomination, that was the first thing I thought of."

The East Texas Historical Association awards program began in 1986. Mrs. Lucille Terry was one of the women who turned Jefferson into a tourist town with with the emphasis on historic buildings.

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