Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse, Sherman, TX
The Federal Building/U.S. Courthouse in Sherman, Texas is a three-story Renaissance Revival building clad in limestone blocks. The main entries to the building are on the south and west elevations. The limestone building rests on a granite limestone base with a molded limestone water table. First floor openings are arched. Second floor windows are balustraded and are separated vertically by wood spandrels from the third floor openings.
The original main entrance to the building is on the center of the south elevation. This elevation consists of five bays with two bays flanking the main entry on the first floor. Granite steps and scrolled granite cheek walls lead to the main entry. The main entry doors are set within an arched opening, surrounded by an ornate door frame. The limestone Doric-style surround is slightly projected and has a straight cornice which is in line with the balustrades of the second floor windows. Paneled limestone pilasters support the cornice. Limestone relief eagles rest atop the pilasters. The arched surround at the door itself consists of paneled pilasters supporting a foliate arch surmounted by a bracketed, scrolled keystone. Above the limestone surround, centered between the relief eagles, the second floor window also has an elaborate surround. It consists of pilasters exhibiting the overlapping disk motif on the shafts and the acanthus foliage in outline motif at the cap. The lintel displays the guilloche motif and an unornamented cornice with split pediment. Original cast iron light standards rest on the cheek walls. The original wood double doors have been replaced by aluminum storefront doors and the transom filled-in with a solid panel of cementious material.
The west elevation has the original secondary entry, however it is currently used as the main entrance. There are three bays of windows on the west elevation. The entry is set within the center bay. Granite steps and scrolled cheek walls lead to the west entry. Aluminum storefront doors, replacements for the original doors, are set within a limestone arch with keystone. The arch on the west elevation is the same as the arch surrounding the south elevation entry door. Original cast iron lantern-style wall fixtures flank the entry door. The other detailing is the same as on the south elevation.
The east elevation is finished the same as the south and west, though it has no entry doors. The east elevation is slightly longer than the west due to the presence of the main, ceremonial courtroom in the east wing of the building. The elevation is four bays wide; fenestration and ornamentation are the same as on the south and west elevations. The crowning feature of the building is its massive wood roof overhang which lies under a red, Ludowici clay tile roof.
The north (rear) elevation has the former loading dock area. An enclosure was built at the loading dock after the Postal Service relocated in 1962.
Significant interior spaces include the original west entry lobby, second and third floor corridors, and the ceremonial courtroom. The original west entry lobby retains the marble staircase, terrazzo and marble floors, and light fixtures. Second and third floor corridors exhibit original terrazzo and marble floors; and oak doors and surrounds. The second floor ceremonial courtroom remains in largely original condition. Finishes include oak paneled wainscot with decorative plaster panels above and original doors and chandeliers.
The Federal Building/US Courthouse in Sherman, Texas is significant because it is an excellent example of Renaissance Revival architecture expressed in a small building; and it is a continuing symbol of the Federal presence in Sherman, TX.
Construction on the limestone building began on January 16, 1906 and the building was occupied in late 1907. Granite for the base was quarried in Burnett, Texas and brought to Sherman by railroad and wagon. It is built in the Renaissance Revival style with Northern Italian influences, a popular style of the period. Elements are symmetrical with arched windows on the first floor and balustraded windows on the second floor. A massive cornice is the crowning feature, and the building has a red clay Ludowici tile roof.
Sherman is a manufacturing center approximately 50 miles north of Dallas. The area was growing rapidly in the early 1900s due to the east Texas oil boom. When the building was constructed in 1907, it was the main Post Office for the area. It also housed a courtroom on the second floor. When the Postal Service moved out of the building in 1962, the space was converted for use as court-related offices. The exterior appearance remains much as it was in the early part of the 20th Century. The building retains its original function as a courthouse and, therefore, continues as a strong symbol of the Federal presence in Sherman.