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«United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form ...»

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FHR-8-300 (11-78)

United States Department of the Interior

Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service

National Register of Historic Places

Inventory Nomination Form

See instructions in How to Complete National Register Forms

Type all entries complete applicable sections

1. Name^^. fl,.,-i,• C^jtl^,^ -tU^^ &*^UL~-


historic County Courthouses in Georgia

and/or common Same

2. Location i not for publication street & number (see attached address list) All 10 districts congressional district are included.

city, town vicinity of i see individual county code sheets: "CC" state Georgia code 013

3. Classification Sta tus Present Use Category Ownership district public x occupied x museum agriculture x building(s) private x commercial unoccupied park work in progress educational private residence structure X both site Public Acquisition Ace:essible entertainment religious x government yes: restricted scientific pbject in process Thematic being considered industrial yes: unrestricted transportation

Group no military.. other:

4. Owner of Property

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1. "Study of Architecture of Courthouses in Georgia," by Janice A. Hardy, under a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and Georgia College.

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2. The National Register of Historic Places No property already listed on the National Register is included in this nomination although the Old Chattahoochee County Courthouse (now at Westville) was previously listed prior to its being moved.

County courthouses in Georgia already listed as individual structures:

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Describe the present and original (iff known) physical appearance The county courthouse in Georgia, usually located in, or on the corner facing, a town square As roost often a community's most significant architectural structure!

L£ke toe, cathedral in European towns, the courthouse is usually visible from a distance, Another similarity to ecclesiastical structures is the frequent utilization of a cross plan. In this instance, the plan symbolizes man's respect for the law and the pride of the people who built the courthouse. When the early Georgia "temples of justice 1* were designed, they were the most modern building in town, had the most lavish spaces, richest detail, up-to-date lights, heating plants, water closets, and telephones. They may not be the most mdoern today, but they still have the richest detail, the greatest spaces. Nothing like them will be built again, for the county cannot afford it, nor are there craftsmen who can build in the same way.


Many of the early structures were designed and constructed by carpenterbuilders, who gave their work a simple but solid character. About eight examples e2?ist today f Heart pine and handmade brick were favorite, inexpensive materials of the carpenter style. Only two wooden courthouses remain in Georgia. One is the Old Chattahoochee County Courthouse. Once located in Cusseta, it has now been moved to Westville, a model village of the 1850s. The other is the Old Marion County Courthouse. Both have hipped roofs and are two-story, square structures featuring pegged construction of heart pine. Other examples of the carpenter style in central and south Georgia assume more classic lines. Clay and Crawford counties are good examples of brick structures that have columns or pilasters and hipped roofs. Their-plans, have one hall similar to the early dog-trot cabins. Another direction is indicated in Columbia County, where the simple rectangular structure is adorned with Italianate eave brackets. The carpenter style in north Georgia differs and is exemplified by the Dawson County Courthouse. The 1857 rectangular brick structure sits on a tiny town square. It has a gabled roof; the entry is a stoop leading to plain wooden doors with a rectangular glass transom; the windows have brick lintels over wooden frames. Several early north Georgia courthouse resembled this building. In 1926, this same style was selected for the Bade County Courthouse in Trenton, an indication of the preference of north Georgians for it.


Another early style was Greek Revival, used about mid-nineteenth century. Only three or four examples remain. Banks and Greene counties are notable. They feature rectangular designs of brick, regularly spaced rectangular windows, temple front porticos, low-pitched roofs. They lack the sophistication of Greek Revival in i [continued] FHR-8-300A (11/78)



in the Northeast U. S., more closely resembling examples whose inspiration came from Virginia. The courtroom of Banks is more Spartan than Greene. It resembles the carpenter style while Greene is more sophisticated with classic elements like columns, pediments, and a cornice filled with five-pointed, gilded stars.

The maturing of the courthouse architectural form in Georgia occurred in the last half of the 19th and the first decade of the 20th century. The influence of styles in the Northeast and Mid-west of the U. S. were particularly obvious.

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The use of the Romanesque style continued into the 20th century. With its broad round-arched entrances, turrets, and capped clock towers, it created a vertical, irregular silhouette. Brick with stone foundation and trim were the most common materials. Stone bandings and panels or stringcourses of terra cotta and sometimes pressed metal were used. "T" plans, cross plans, "Y" plans were the ones employed most often. The interiors had beautiful millwork of oak or pine;

double staircases lead to the courtroom. The judge*s bench was elaborate as were the pressed metal courtroom ceilings. Some of the ceilings have been lowered and the interiors altered but basically, the exteriors remain unchanged. About a dozen examples remain. The Old Floyd County courthouse is a fine example of this style. The interior with its massive oajk woodwork echoes the strength of the exterior.

Some elements of the Richardsonian Romanesque are found as in the Chatham County courthouse but generally Georgia courthouses are simpler, less pure. Often there is stylistic mixing. An example of this is the double arched Romanesque entry of the Brooks County courthouse. This part of the facade was added in 1892.

At the same time, a Renaissance garland to decorate the frieze and delicately detailed pediments on Renaissance scrolled brackets over the paired second story windows were added. The details are Renaissance yet the entry is Richardsonian.

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The High Victorian style combines many design elements. Gothic elements are mixed with other design features. There are pinnacles, pyramidally capped bell FHR-8-300A (11/78)



towers, tracery, stepped gables, and even classic elements like columns, pilasters, Palladian windows, and interior friezes. The steeped pitched roof lines are complex as are window treatments that feature square, rectangular and segmentally arched examples in the same structure. Construction materials are brick, stone, wood, terra cotta, pressed metal, cast iron. The floor plans used are cross and assymmetrical ones. Half a dozen good examples can be found today.

The most fanciful High Victorian exterior in Georgia is the Terrell County courthouse that towers over the town of Dawson. Victorian interiors have pressed metal courtroom ceilings, spacious litigation areas, elaborate judge's benches.

Often stained glass was used in the courtroom, although little remains today.

One of the notable interiors is in Monroe County. It is particularly outstanding because of the tinted pressed metal ceiling (the design is delicate, reminiscent of Adam Brothers designs).


Popular in this same period was the Second Empire Style. There are four or five remaining courthouses that utilized designs having high Mansard roofs on boldly modeled buildings with clock towers. Dormers of many shapes, bracketed cornices, arched or rectangular windows mark this style. Brick, wood, and stone were the most frequently used materials. Floor plans were usually "T" plans.

Newton County courthouse is a fine example in Georgia.


Queen Anne, a popular English style, was revived in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. It featured many eclectic and picturesque effects; asymmetrical plans, deep porches, capped or domed corner towers, stepped gables. Many materials and textures were utilized - wood, stone, terra cotta panels, multicolored brick. The interiors of courtrooms have beaded boards in checkerboard designs in wainscoting and ceiling. Pressed metal was sometimes used and window transoms often had tiny, colored glass panes. The Randolph County courthouse is an example of the variety achieved both on the exterior and interior. About half a dozen remain.

FHR-8-300A (11/78)



The most important influence on Georgia courthouse design was the classical influence begun by the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. This style stressed symmetrical plans, use of classical orders, colossal columns, pedimented porticos - generally on a grand scale. In Georgia, brick, stone and concrete were the materials used; exterior and interior plans are spacious with classical detailing. The Ben Hill County courthouse is an example of this plan. There are only three or four courthouses that could be classified as Beaux Arts: Classical but the influence spread rapidly and was diluted.


The Beaux Arts influence produced a Renaissance Revival style with monumental, horizontal, symmetrical plans, regular window patterns, one story entrances, some simple rustication, heavy cornices. Several Georgia examples of this style have been adopted and "streamlined". They seem Renaissance more in their massing and long horizontal lines than in specific details, such as window pediments and stringcourses. The Walker County courthouse is one such example. Two or three others remain.


Other Greek and Roman styles were revived at the turn of the century, making the classical influence doubly strong. Between 1890-1910, fifty-six courthouses were constructed in Georgia. Three-fourths assumed Neo-Classical lines. They were the largest courthouses built in the state and featured several two-story projecting pedimented porticos utilizing colossal columns, corner pavilions, quoins, fan lighted doorways, round arched and rectangular windows, domed clock towers.

Pressed metal in egg and dart and bead -and reel designs was seen on the exterior and interior. The interiors had cross plans, art nouveau light fixtures, iron staircases, some hand graining of wood, and spacious courtrooms. Coweta County courthouse is an excellent example of a Neo-Classical design.

FHR-8-300A (11/78)



There were variations on this style. Two notable ones are the Decatur and Turner County courthouses which have classical facades and a corner campanile giving them an Italianate look. Two others - the Murray and Effingham County courthouses - are Palladian adaptations. The domes are low, broad and resemble the one at Jefferson f s Monticello.

The Neo-classical revival continued into the twenties and thirties using some of the same types of plans, with only one entrance portico and a generally diminished scale. They were not as grand as the earlier ones. Two good examples of the late Neo-Classical period are Bacon and Bleckley County courthouses.


The Camden County courthouse represents a departure from the Neo-Classical emphasis of the 20th century. J. de Bruyn Kops designed this picturesque structure, using battlements, a parapet wall and label lintels over rectangular windows. All Gothic elements were used quite freely and adapted to suit the architect. It is the only such example in Georgia.


An important aspect of many Georgia courthouses, regardless of style, is the clock. Located in a tower or dome, it can be seen easily throughout town and heard from some distance. Numerous clocks were installed from 1890 - 1910.

One noted clock company, the E. Howard Watch and Clock Company that operated out of Boston, New York, and Chicago, b,egan building tower clocks in 1842. The firm is no longer in business. Numerous E. Howard clocks have been pinpointed in Georgia courthouses: Henry, Turner, Stephens, and Decatur are examples. The Henry County clock has recently been valued by Baer T s Clock Shop (Michael T.

Lepper, II, President) as being worth in excess of $200,000 when restored.

FHR-8-300A (11/78)



During the 1930s, three general styles of county courthouses were built in Georgia. Most prevalent was the Art Deco style, strongly influenced by the Neoclassical tradition. Courthouses in Cherokee (1929), Hall (1936), Mitchell (1937), and Cook (1939) counties are examples. These courthouses are generally simple in massing and bold in form. They feature shallow, incised, almost relief decoration, but of classical inspiration rather than the zig-zags and chevrons of the true Art Deco. Surface material tends to be monolithic, like concrete or limestone slabs. Contrasting with these "modern" designs are the Colonial or Williamsburg Revival courthouses.

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