Ward R. Burke U.S. Courthouse, Lufkin, TX
The Ward R. Burke Courthouse in Lufkin, Texas is a one-story brick Neo-Classical Revival building resting on a limestone base. Ornamentation is simple, but reflects the Classical influence. The brick elevation is punctuated by 8 over 8 wood double-hung windows with limestone lintels; and four limestone Doric columns at the main entry. The columns support an unembellished entablature. The original main entry consisted of three double entry doors with fixed glass transoms above. At the present time, the main entry to the building is through the center door opening, where the original doors have been replaced with metal double doors. The original door openings flanking the center have been filled-in with fixed glass. Broad granite steps lead up to the building. The north and south elevations have seven bays of wooden windows with limestone lintels. The entablature continues as a border around the building. The west (rear) elevation is the original loading dock area. An enclosed loading dock projects rearward and extends across two-thirds of the rear elevation. Parking for the building is adjacent to the east (rear) elevation.
The interior of the Ward R. Burke Federal Building was completely reconfigured and altered to provide for a courtroom and office spaces, however a few historic features and finishes remain. The original lobby was reduced in size, but a portion of the original lobby remains as the entry lobby for the building. Original lobby finishes include terrazzo floors with marble borders, marble door surrounds and an ornate plaster ceiling with denticulated crown mold. The basement elevator lobby and north-south corridor also feature the original terrazzo floors. The original marble staircase leading from the first floor to the basement is still intact.
The Ward R. Burke Courthouse in Lufkin, Texas is significant because it is an excellent example of Neo-Classical architecture in a small Federal building; it is a contributing building in the Calder Square Historic District in the Central Business District; and it is a continuing symbol of the Federal presence in Lufkin.
The simple brick building exhibits the Greek elements of Doric columns supporting an unenriched architrave at its main entry. Simple windows with unembellished limestone lintels are reminiscent of the Renaissance Revival style. The combination of elements is characteristic of the Neo-Classical style of architecture.
Several buildings in the Central Business District of Lufkin are of historic significance, and preservation of these buildings is important to the community. The Ward R. Burke Courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places along with other buildings in the Calder Square section of Lufkin.
The Federal presence has always been strong in the community of Lufkin. Even prior to becoming incorporated as a city, Lufkin received Federal recognition through the creation of a Post Office. The city was incorporated in 1882 during a "timber boom" period in east Texas. The present courthouse was built in 1935 under the auspices of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Louis Simon, Supervising Architect. After the passage of the Public Buildings Act of 1926, there was an increase in the construction of Federal Buildings in the United States. Public building construction was expanded in the 1930s to provide jobs during the Depression. It was during this period that the courthouse was built. Originally designed for use as the main Post Office for Lufkin, the interior of the building was reconfigured in 1988 for use solely as a courthouse. Though its original function has changed, the building continues to serve as a symbol of the Federal presence in Lufkin.