Old Courthouse, Stiles, Texas

by Brian Cofer June. 13, 2014 4718 views

You're looking at Stiles, Texas, the whole town. Once a thriving county seat with a couple of hundred people, everyone has left, save for a few families living within a few miles radius. A nearby cemetery is well-maintained and actively used. Otherwise the former townsite is limited to this shell of a courthouse and a nearby shedlike building that appears to have been used until fairly recently to repair tractors and equipment.

The area was settled in the 1890s, and Stiles, being the only town at the time, was named the seat of the newly organized Reagan County in 1903. The courthouse you see here was built in 1911 from limestone quarried from a nearby hillside.

Its use would be limited to only a few years. The very same year it was completed. The Kansas City, Mexico and Orient Railway bypassed Stiles, passing instead through the upstart town of Big Lake, also helped by the 1923 discovery of what is still one of America's largest and most productive oil fields. Naturally, people began migrating to the new rail line, and
Big Lake was named county seat in 1925.

The post office closed in 1939, and Stiles has mostly slumbered since then with the population last counted in 2000 at 4. The courthouse remained mostly empty but intact until Christmas Eve 1999 when an arsonist's fire gutted the structure. The police immediately zoned in on a local serial firebug who had tried to torch the building a couple of times before and had been accused of other area fires.

I had this odd feeling, as I was walking around, that I was being watched…

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There are 7 comments , add yours!
Stormfish 5 years, 2 months ago

it seems like this was built to last... a common disdemeanour for houses of "justice". ;-/

5 years, 2 months ago Edited
Janet 5 years, 3 months ago

I love such places and photos. Def fave!

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Kenny H 5 years, 3 months ago

Interesting piece of history you've shared with us. Very well shot and reported

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Patsy Abbey 5 years, 3 months ago

Great set! Very interesting history. This building was certainly built well.

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Louise Hayes 5 years, 3 months ago

I love these kind of posts I learn so much about places that I will never get to, and the pictorial story you provide puts me there! Thank you

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Jacki 5 years, 3 months ago

That's one solidly built building to still have mostly complete walls at this point! What do you suppose those large drums and metal on the inside are all about?? What about that dome area in #6? Any ideas?

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
Mike Meliska 5 years, 3 months ago

Interesting set...

5 years, 3 months ago Edited
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