Ysleta had been the county seat since 1878, but it lacked a real courthouse. The grand jury met in a small, inadequate room provided by the sheriff. The jurors became so dissatisfied with the substandard accommodations that they issued a report stating that the quarters were alive with vermin and in a reprehensible condition. The jurors chastised the sheriff for allowing the room to fall into such a state of disrepair. To remedy the situation, the commissioners court decided to build a small two-level courthouse on some donated land. Built entirely of sandstone, the first floor consisted of five rooms which served as county offices. Although the completed structure measured approximately 140 by 280 feet, it was still so small that the county judge and the grand jury had to share the same office. To finance the project, the court issued bonds totaling $14,000 at 8% interest. By September, 1882, the courthouse was nearing completion, but its use as such would be brief.
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