This courthouse occupies the south side of Main Plaza, formerly called "La Plaza de las Islas", as originally laid out by the Canary Islanders in 1731. As it was then, this plaza is the administrative and judicial heart of Bexar County.
This is the fourth edifice to house the government of the county since Texas entered the United States. The citizens authorized $621,000 worth of bonds in the 1890s to finance its construction. James Riely Gordon (1863-1937), architect for many imposing public buildings, including at least one state capitol, submitted the award-winning Romanesque design for this courthouse. The builders were George Dugan, David Hughes, and Otto P. Kroeger. The foundation was laid in 1891, and the structure was completed in 1896. Native Texas granite and red sandstone are basic materials of the massive building. Towers roofed in green tile and red tile, handsome columns and arches, carvings, and many fine interior details gave the edifice great distinction.
Additions in 1914 and 1926 continued the use of Texas granite and sandstone. Expansions in 1963, 1970, and 1973 employed other materials, however, and also altered portions of the original design.