What others might see as scraps, Don Huddleston see as potential craftmaking material.
The Weatherford native spends most of his time at home these days making things to keep himself busy. His latest creation is a replica of the Parker County Courthouse, built in 1878 for $21,000.
It didn’t last long. In just six short years, on March 1, 1884, the structure, designed by W.H. Wilson, burned to the ground.
“I ran across a picture of that courthouse — it’s the only one in existence that I know of,” Don said. “The clocks weren’t even installed.”
So, Don took the picture and according to his best interpretation, starting working on a replica.
“I took one entire day just measuring so I could get things to scale,” he said. “Taking that information, I was able to figure out what size the windows and doors needed to be, and how tall and wide to make it.”
He said he tried to find additional information on the building but with little success.
In five weeks, often finding himself working late into the night, Don completed the project.
“It’s fun to create,” he said.
He used a knitting needle to make the flagpole and a coat hanger to make the fence.
“I wasn’t sure what was at the top of the courthouse, the picture was so degraded,” Don said. “I researched other courthouses built by the same architect and discovered it was a weather vane.”
The weather vane was made from materials he purchased at Dollar General.
The toughest part of the construction came with the exterior walls. In 1993, Don made a replica of the current Parker County Courthouse that sits at the courthouse annex.
“Some of the materials I used on the first courthouse I made came from Acme Brick Co.,” Don said. “Unfortunately, they don’t make it anymore so I thought, ‘What in the world am I going to use?’ ”
In the end Don used a gallon of floor grout to make the walls that he piped through a piping bag made by snipping off the corner of a ziplock bag.
“I squeezed it through a little bit at a time,” he said. “Then I sprinkled some special sand on it to give it a certain look.”
Asked why he built the replica courthouse in the first place, he said it was for the love he had for history — and courthouses.
“I wanted to do this because most people haven’t even seen a picture of the courthouse we had before the one we have today,” he said.
“I just want people to enjoy it as much as I did making it.”