The Historic Collin County Courthouse
In its prime, from 1876 to 1927, the Historic Collin County Courthouse was a bustling hub of activity for Collin County. Many historical events and memories were made in and around the building.
Designed in the style of the French Second Empire, the Collin County Courthouse was considered the tallest building in Texas north of San Antonio upon its completion in early 1875. It consisted of two floors, a steep mansard roof with patterned shingles, decorative cut stone and twin towers above the roof line on the east side of the building.
The Courthouse was drastically remodeled in 1927. Floor levels were changed, a basement and third floor were added, and the entire exterior was clad in buff brick. The old roof was replaced with a new concrete roof deck behind a new parapet, and all other wood framing was likewise replaced with fireproof steel and concrete.
This renovation more than doubled the floor space in the original Courthouse, and its appearance changed to a more restrained neoclassical style.
The Old Collin County Courthouse was vacated in 1979 upon completion of the new Courthouse located on McDonald Street in McKinney. The Historic Courthouse is now the centerpiece of the Downtown McKinney Commercial Historic District and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.
Community leaders and volunteers invested countless hours in research and planning for the restoration of this historic facility. The McKinney Community Development Corporation and City of McKinney moved forward and reviewed a compilation of community forums and planning sessions to evaluate the building's use and potential programming. In October 2003, a proposal was approved to re-craft the Courthouse as a cultural center for the citizens of McKinney and Collin County.
After extensive planning, diligent attention to detail and respect for historic integrity, the City of McKinney worked hand-in-hand with the Texas Historical Commission to preserve the original beauty of the Historic Collin County Courthouse. MPAC distinguishes McKinney as a regional leader in supporting the arts and cultivating a unique cultural community and in generating economic development.
The project was funded by the City of McKinney, McKinney Community Development Corporation and Collin County. The project meets Texas Historical Commission guidelines for rehabilitation.
- 1846: The present Collin county was part of Fannin County. This county was named Collin after Collin McKinney, one of the earliest settlers and a signer of the Declaration of Independence from Mexico.
- 1848: The county seat was changed from Buckner to McKinney.
- Date Unknown: The first courthouse was constructed of logs with a wood shake roof by the men of the town on the site of the present jail on S. Kentucky Ave.
- 1874: Commissioners voted to erect a new courthouse on the present square.
- 1876: Dedication ceremony and inaugural party in the newly opened courthouse. A buffet dinner and dancing continued into the morning hours with approximately 1,000 in attendance despite bad weather. For the occasion, the "district courtroom" was renamed the "dance hall," and a popular new song, the "Blue Danube," played as the favorite of the evening.
- 1926: Plans drawn up to remodel the courthouse due to pressing county needs for more office and storage space and a serviceable courtroom.
- 1927: Remodeling and expansion begins.
- 1928: Reconstructed Courthouse is completed and partly furnished, almost ready for occupancy. Expansion included adding a third floor and a basement.
- 1974: The south stairs were replaced with a new elevator.
- 1979: The county relocates offices into a new courthouse, vacating the old courthouse.
- 1983: McKinney Commercial Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
- 2005: Historic Collin County Courthouse was rehabilitated into a performing arts venue and multi-use facility.
- March 30, 2006: Reopened as McKinney Performing Arts Center at the Historic Collin County Courthouse.
Source: The Williams Co., The Old Collin County Courthouse, June, 1989