Several years after Willacy County formed in 1911, a courthouse was built by San Antonio Architect Henry T. Phelps in Sarita. Despite the elegant new courthouse, Sarita remained a remote, inaccessible location to many Willacy County residents.
In 1921, the 37th Legislature created the present-day Willacy County with Raymondville designated as the county seat. Early county meetings were held in the Raymondville State Bank Building, arranging for the use of a jail cage borrowed from the King Ranch. That year, the commissioners entered into an agreement with Henry T. Phelps, designer of the first Willacy County Courthouse in Sarita, for the design of the new courthouse and jail.
Phelps' design for the new courthouse had a traditional, cross-axial plan with three floors and a basement. Entrances were provided on the four sides of the building at the ends of the crossed corridors. The first floor, accessed by monumental exterior stairs, contained the county courtroom and offices of the county judge and other officials. The second floor housed the district courtroom, jury, grand jury, consultation and witness rooms, as well as other offices. The jail was on the third floor and contained a cell room and sleeping quarters for the juries.
The historic courthouse exterior is understated with brick trimmed
with cast stone ornament. Completed in 1923 by the Walker Construction Company, the courthouse became the focus of civic activities and pride among residents, hosting festivals, meetings, and community events in addition to county business and numerous high-profile cases. The courthouse was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2017.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2016