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thehappysmith

The Southern Courthouse

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I've been a collector of county courthouses for about three years now. As a member of the Extra Miler Club, it's a goal of mine to visit every county or county-equivalent in the United States. I've decided that I'd like to have some physical record of this, so I make it a point to get into the county seat (or both, if there are multiple ones) and snap a photo of the county courthouse. In small counties, these are often the one structure countywide that was built with real care and style.

At request I've decided to post a few of these here. I'm mostly going to post the really nice ones; a lot of counties have torn down their old courthouses to build new ones; this was in vogue particularly in the 1950's, 60's, and 70's, the dark ages of American architecture. Lately we've become more enlightened about historic buildings, and these days old courthouses are generally rehabbed and given over to some other purpose rather than torn down when the county needs to expand.

A good example of the sort of tragedy that befell many counties in the 60s is this courthouse in Chilton County, Alabama:

chiltonal1.jpg

I'm not sure if there is an architectural style called "Vomit," but if so, this is a good example.

On the other hand, many counties have beautiful courthouses; Texas and Georgia in particular have some very fine structures that are well taken care of. Here's a handful of some of the best from Georgia and Alabama. I'll add others as time goes on.

This here is Lowndes County, Georgia; it was built by Frank Milburn in 1904. The county seat is Valdosta. This is often considered the most beautiful courthouse in Georgia.

lowndesga2.jpg

This is the courthouse in Early County, Georgia. It was built in 1904 by Morgan & Dillon. I like the massive dome on this one; it's really not a very big building. The county seat here is Blakely.

earlyga2.jpg

This is a nice little Second Empire prism in Reidsville, Tattnall County, Georgia. Georgia has a number of prismic courthouses; I haven't seen many in other states. This was built in 1902 by J.W. Golucke, who did quite a few Georgia courthouses.

tattnallga2.jpg

Here is an 1896 Bruce & Morgan masterpiece, in Forsyth, Monroe County, Georgia. This is the same Morgan from Morgan & Dillon..

monroega1.jpg

This is Shelby County, Alabama; the county seat is Columbiana. It's a nice town which actually has an even older courthouse, from 1853, still standing. This one was built in the first decade of the 20th century, but I don't know the architect's name.

shelbyal1.jpg

This is Bullock County, Alabama, in the town of Union Springs. Union Springs is actually a very nice town with an active downtown. The courthouse, like numerous of the other buildings in the commercial district, is in the Second Empire style; it's the only one in Alabama. I don't know the architect.

bullockal1.jpg

Here is Cook County, Georgia, in my favorite little Georgia town, Adel. Cook is one of the newest counties in the state; Adel was already an established town at that time it became county seat so they built this several blocks north of downtown, in 1939. It was designed by William J.J. Chase, who built a number of "stripped classical" courthouses like this around the state in the 20s and 30s. This was the first courthouse I photographed.

cookga1.jpg

This is in Haynesville, Lowndes County, Alabama. It's a greek temple for all intents and purposes and is kept immaculately clean by the county, even though there isn't enough money to restore the old clock in the tower. This was designed by John Wind and built in the first decade of the 20th century.

lowndesal2.jpg

That's all for now. If there's interest, I can add more. I do take requests but I only have about 320 courthouse pictures now and can't always get away to take more. If you'd like to see courthouses from Georgia, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida, or Texas, I can probably accomodate. I also have a few from Louisiana, South Carolina, and North Carolina.

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My requests for courthouses are all from GA counties: Worth, Tift, Crisp, Ben Hill, Telfair, Baldwin (including any pics of Milledgeville you have). I may have some more later If I can think of some other counties.

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Ha ha ha ha ha! Crisp County! It's not worth it. I don't actually think this is the ugliest courthouse in the state, although it is damned close. Damned close. I mean, if I was Cordele, I'd be embarassed.

This was designed by A. Webb, and built in 1950. From the looks of it, Mr. Webb's previous design experience included industrial warehouses.

crispga1.jpg

Tift County, Tifton, Georgia, has another prism. This is more a beaux-arts style prism, as opposed the second empire Tattnall County prism. It was built by W.A. Edwards in 1912. I rather it like it.

tiftga1.jpg

Worth County's courthouse, in Sylvester, was built in 1905 by J.W. Golucke (who also did Tattnall County). It burned in 1981 and was substantially rebuilt in 1982, to the original plans.

worthga1.jpg

This is Telfair County, in McRae, by Dennis & Dennis, 1934. It looks rather like a church, I think, from the side; I think this picture shows the building's size better than the pic from the front. It's a few blocks away from the main commercial district, and probably is not on the site of the original courthouse.

telfairga2.jpg

Ben Hill County's courthouse is in Fitzgerald. This is actually the west side of the courthouse; the front is almost entirely obscured by trees. Doesn't much matter, really; the building is identical on three sides. It was built in 1907 by H.H. Huggins. This is also in a different place from the original courthouse, north and east of the CBD.

benhillga2.jpg

Baldwin County is one of the few I've never been through, although if my leave goes through for the week after Easter, I plan to drive through Milledgeville on my way north. Stand by.

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Do you have the Statesboro, GA courthouse? I remember driving through and thinking it was a very attractive structure, and a very good centerpiece for downtown...

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Thanks for sharing. I've often thought a book of courthouses would have a good coffee table book. State Capitols too.

You're right about Chilton County AL. Ugh!!

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If you happen to be in South Georgia/North Florida, check out the county seat of Columbia County, Lake City, FL (My hometown - just 45 min. south of Valdosta, GA on I-75). There are actually two original courthouse structures (early 1900's) still standing side by side, both very well kept (the newer of the two serves as the current courthouse).

The city I currently live in, Gainesville, FL used to have a beautiful courthouse that was tore down for some rediculous reason sometime in the late 1950's. Here is a picture at this link: http://www.jud10.org/Courthouses/Alachua/alachua.html

The courthouse constructed after this one will make you puke also (it is still standing, although yet another courthouse is in use today). Take a look: http://www.jud10.org/Courthouses/Alachua/ja-alachua2.jpg

Luckily, the live oaks have grown up large enough to block most of the view of this building from the street. I think we should paint the whole thing camo, then maybe no one would notice it.

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Macon County Alabama has a Romanesque, Other, Mid 19th Century Revival courthouse the county seat is Tuskegee. The Macon County courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and is the only courthouse in Alabama to still have Gargoyles on the courthouse.Macon9.gif

The infamous Macon County Court House was the scene

where blacks fought many battles to get the right to vote.

Tuskegee1.jpg

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Here's Douglas County, Georgia's:

court678.jpg

Here's Fulton County, GA's (also the largest government building in the state!):

fultonCHpostcard.jpg

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Here's the Dade County Courthouse in downtown Miami, built in 1925. It's currently undergoing a major restoration. At 28

stories, it was once the tallest building in Miami. In the beginning, its top floors were once used as jail cells (there were

several successful escapes from those upper floors too). Today this courthouse is the venue used for civil trials in Miami-Dade

County.

dadecountycourthouse8mo.jpg

Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building - the criminal courthouse for Miami-Dade County. The Dade County Jail is directly behind

it. Built in the 1960s, a time that thehappysmith couldn't have described more appropriately, the dark age of American

architecture. This building is ugly both inside and out.

tour01gerstein016af.jpg

Here's a bonus: this is Miami's new federal courthouse, still under construction. Designed by Arquitect

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