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Old Nueces County Courthouse sells

The Old Nueces County Courthouse sits behind a chain-link fence to keep out vandals and ghost hunters. The 102-year-old building is believed to be haunted. Photo courtesy TAMU-CC archives

The old Nueces County Courthouse was sold April 12 to buyers who may turn it into a hotel. Firm plans for the future of Corpus Christi's most famous haunted building won't be revealed until summer said Steve Coon of Coon Restoration and Sealants, one of three men involved in the deal. Working with Coon are Steve Goodman, a financier from Fort Worth and Jim McCue, a construction contractor with Coon Restoration.

The trio formed Nueces County Courthouse Development Partners, LLC, and signed a purchase agreement during a Nueces County Commissioners Court meeting. The signing begins a 90-day due diligence period for finalizing financing, tax credits and agreements with the Texas Historical Commission. Coon said inspections will begin immediately, while actual construction probably would not begin for another nine months.

Sold at the bargain-basement price of $1,000, the courthouse at 1100 N. Mesquite St. will also cost the purchaser $1.5 million in back taxes. County commissioners originally asked for $800,000 as well as the back taxes when the building first went on the market last year. Negotiations with the purchasing company began in December.

Built in 1914, the old Nueces County Courthouse has been empty and crumbling for 40 years. As a historical building, it will be under the auspices of the Texas Historical Commission until 2027. As a result, the courthouse is protected from demolition, and all renovations must follow certain guidelines.

Haunting history

The courthouse is believed by many to be haunted. Numerous criminals were sentenced and hanged inside. Law-abiding residents still among the living claim the spirits of the executed reside within the courthouse walls.

One infamous story from the early 1900s tells of a teenage boy who visited the execution room on the top floor on Halloween night. While examining a piece of bloodied rope, the boy was supposedly pushed out of a window by an unknown soul, meeting his death on the pavement below.

The hanged are not the only lost spirits claimed to be trapped in the abandoned building. In the aftermath of the 1919 hurricane that devastated the city, the building’s basement served as a morgue for hundreds of bodies. The courthouse was a haven for those trying to escape the storm’s rage. The sturdy structure withstood the worst storm to ever hit the area.

Photographers have claimed that strange orbs appear in their photos of the building. People also claim to hear screams and voices. Surrounded by a chain-link fence, the courthouse is a natural draw for ghost-hunting trespassers, although its crumbling infrastructure could prove dangerous.

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