Dancy Building (Cameron County Courthouse)
The Dancy Building (Cameron County Courthouse) is located at 1100 E. Monroe St. in Brownsville, Texas. It was designed by architect Atlee B. Ayres in the Classical Revival style of architecture and built between 1912 and 1914 by Gross Construction Company. By 1915, Ayres was the state architect of Texas and had designed many public buildings throughout the state, including additional courthouses in Alice, Del Rio, Kingsville, and Refugio.
This classically styled public building has been central for the Cameron County government for over a century, replacing the original 1882 courthouse. In 1981, a new courthouse was built and the building was renamed for Judge Oscar Dancy Cromwell, whose served the county for 18 years. The building now houses county offices.
According to the Texas Historical Marker text, the building consists of "three stories with an elevated basement... and the brick exterior features banded ground floor courses, Corinthian columns and pilasters, a dome and a classical parapet with terra cotta trim. The interior is notable for its octagonal rotunda and elaborate art-glass dome."
On September 27, 1980, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Between 1994 and 2006, the building was completely renovated at a cost of over $17 million. It was rededicated on October 17, 2006.
Oscar Cromwell Dancy
Oscar Cromwell Dancy (1879-1971), originally from North Carolina, received his law degree from Southern Normal University (TN) and served with the U. S. Army in the Spanish-American War. Later Dancy was elected mayor of North Wilkesboro, NC, but resigned his position in 1909 and moved with his wife, Leva Jane Long, who contracted typhoid fever, and children to Brownsville, TX.
Dancy continued to practice law in Brownsville and served as county judge of Cameron County (1921–1932 and 1934–1962) for four decades—longer than any other man's in the history of the state. As a Democrat, he favored the statewide use of county bond financing local water and road improvements and advocated for state and national funds for flood control.
His accomplishments were the development of the concrete county highway system, which played an instrumental role in the development of the 1944 Water Agreement between the US and Mexico. Judge Dancy contributed to building the first causeway connecting Port Isabel to South Padre Island and was involved in the negotiations for the building of dams in the county.
Judge Dancy was a high profile and respected figure, which gave him the opportunity to meet with prominent people such as Justice of the Peace Bat Corrigan, President of Mexico Miguel Aleman, and many others. He also had the opportunity to meet Mexican movie Star “Cantiflas” Mario Moreno, a Mexican actor, filmmaker, and accomplished comedian.
A blast from the past! windows to yesteryear from the archives of the Brownsville Historical Association, 50th anniversary, 1947-1997
Brad Reagan, “Dancy, Oscar Cromwell,” Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association.
Dancy Building – Mitte Cultural District (website).
Judge Oscar Dancy Collection, BLIBR-0055, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Special Collections and Archives, Brownsville Campus.
Judge Oscar C. Dancy [videorecording] : 2006 Brownsville Travelogue Re-Dedication Oscar C. Dancy Building. McDonough, Ga: Cornerstone Video Productions, 2008. Film.
Oscar Cromwell Dancy Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
TO SELL TEXAS ROAD BONDS: Judge Dancy Here to Lay Plans for $1,750,000 Flotation. (1929). New York Times (1923-), 31–.
University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu;