Take the opportunity to learn about Northeast Georgia's past by stepping into some its historic courthouses, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic of Historic Places.
BANKS COUNTY (Homer)
The Banks County Courthouse is a two-story antebellum structure with columns and hand-made bricks located in Homer, the county seat. The bricks were hand-made made from clay dug from the nearby Hudson River. Designed by Samuel W. Pruitt, the courthouse was completed in 1863 in the Greek Revival style and is one of the oldest courthouse structures in northeast Georgia. The courthouse, almost lost to demolition, was painstakingly restored in 1990-1991.
The Barrow County Courthouse, designed by J. J. "Jamie" Baldwin, was constructed in 1920 in Winder, the county seat. It exhibits Neo-Classical stylistic elements and an octagonal domed clock tower with a lantern. Restoration of the courtroom, detailed by preservation architect Lane Greene, was completed in 1990. The Battle of Jug Tavern (Winder's original name) at King's Tanyard was the final event of the Federal fiasco called Stoneman Raid.
DAWSON COUNTY (Dawsonville)
The Dawson County Courthouse was constructed circa 1858 with Greek Revival style features such as wide cornices, symmetrical facades and double hung windows. It is located in the town square of the county seat, Dawsonville. Designers included Wesley McGuire, Henderson Wilson, and John Hackenhull. An addition to the original building was constructed in 1958. The courthouse was rehabilitated in 1989-1990 with efforts by the Dawson County Women's Club. Dawsonville's claim to fame is that it is the home of five Daytona 5oo Champions, NASCAR race. driver Bill Elliott, Loyd Seay and Thunder Road U.S.A.
ELBERT COUNTY (Elberton)
The Elbert County Courthouse was constructed in 1893 in the Romanesque style, popular four courthouse architecture of the late 19th century. It was designed by R. A. Hunt and located in Elberton, the county seat. Appropriately, the exterior of the courthouse contains brick and granite as Elberton calls itself the " Granite Capital of the World". In January 1791, one month after Elbert County's creation, the plantation home of T. A. Carter served as courtroom for the county's first superior court. What served as the county's courthouse for the next nine years is not known but in 1800, Elbert County's first courthouse -- a two-story wooden building -- was constructed. Whether other courthouses followed is not known, but the present courthouse was constructed in 1893. By this time, Elbert had an active granite industry, and granite was incorporated into the new structure. The building's interior was extensively renovated in 1964.
The historic Franklin County Courthouse, constructed in 1906 with Neo-Classical stylistic elements including columns and buff-colored brick, still serves as the county courthouse today. The courthouse exhibits a Greek Cross plan with entrances on all four sides of the square building. It was designed by W. Chamberlain and is located in Carnesville, the county seat. At the time of its creation in 1784, Franklin County was a large wilderness, with the northern border bordering Cherokee lands. An act of Feb. 22, 1785 provided that superior court for the new county initially be held at the house of Warren Philpot. An act of Feb. 10, 1787 changed the meeting place to the house of Benjamin Acles. On Feb. 1, 1788, the legislature appointed commissioners to select a site for the county seat and authorized them to spend up to £250 to build a courthouse and jail. New commissioners were named in 1791, and again in 1792. The next year, Franklin County's first courthouse was completed. In 1826, the General Assembly authorized a local tax to fund construction of a new courthouse, which was completed in 1826 or 1827. That building was used until the present two-story brick courthouse was constructed in 1906. The courthouse was remodeled in 1958, and the interior was renovated in 1998.
HALL COUNTY (Gainesville)
The WPA-funded Hall County Courthouse, designed by Daniell & Beutell and constructed in 1937, illustrates the Art Deco-influenced design (Stripped Classical) of public buildings constructed during Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Hall County's first courthouse was a simple log building built soon after the county's founding. In 1820, a new courthouse was built halfway between Mule Camp Springs and Redwine Springs. In 1832, a brick courthouse was built in the public square in Gainesville. This structure burned in 1851, and a replacement was built--but it burned also in 1882. The county's next courthouse -- a brick structure -- was built in on South Bradford St. in 1884, but it was destroyed by a devastating tornado that hit Gainesville in 1936. Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt facilitated federal relief monies to rebuild the city, part of which went to a new courthouse completed in 1937. Roosevelt himself dedicated the new Hall County Courthouse, Gainesville City Hall and Federal Building in 1937. In 1975, a modern-styled addition was built on to the rear of the 1937 courthouse, resulting in the appearance that the combined building has two different main entrances. Continuing growth of Hall County led to the need for additional office space for county government departments, and in 2000 construction began of a multi-story brick county government complex adjacent to the old courthouse and annex.
JACKSON COUNTY (Jefferson)
The Jackson County Courthouse was designed by W. W. Thomas with elements of the Neo-Classical style and built in 1879. It is a focal point of the Jefferson, the county seat. This is the fourth courthouse for Jackson County. Prior to building of a courthouse, superior court was held at the home of Thomas Kirkpatrick beginning in Aug. 1796. In 1799, Clarkesboro was designated as the county seat of Jackson County and a courthouse was built. In 1800, the General Assembly moved the county seat to Jefferson, where a wooden courthouse subsequently was built. In 1820, a brick courthouse was built, but the current courthouse was built in 1879. A clock tower was added in 1906, and an interior renovation completed in 1978.
LUMPKIN COUNTY (Dahlonega)
The Lumpkin County Courthouse, has stood in the Dahlonega square since 1838. It is a two story brick structure that exhibits elements of the Classical Revival style with its two-columned portico. The courthouse is the oldest public building in north Georgia. Today, the building contains the Gold Museum, operated by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Lumpkin County's first courthouse was a log cabin at the gold rush town of Auraria.
The Madison County Courthouse, one of the more ornate in northeast Georgia, was constructed in 1901 and designed by J. W. Goluke and Company, who also designed the Union County Courthouse. This Romanesque style courthouse is located in the center of Danielsville, which exhibits a typical courthouse square town plan. The county was created on Dec. 5 1811 from portions of Clarke, Oglethorpe, Elbert, Franklin and Jackson counties. The Henry Strickland home was used as the first courthouse. James Long of Danielsville was well recognized in the early history of the county. He was one of the first "bankers" albeit without the bank. He would loan money to the farmers, who would pay him back when the crop came in. His son, Crawford Long, is generally recognized today as being the first doctor to anesthetize his patients. Long, who practiced in Danielsville before moving to Jefferson in 1841 had a brother who was a doctor and remained in Danielsville.
STEPHENS COUNTY (Toccoa)
The Stephens County Courthouses was constructed in 1907 in the Neo-Classical style with four large Ionic columns which stand two stories tall on the north and south porticos. A cupola in the center of the top of the structure houses the four-sided clock facing north, south, east and west. It is not clear what served as Stephens County courthouse for the first three years after the county's creation. Construction of a two-story brick courthouse began in June 1907 and was completed in 1908. This building served as Stephens County courthouse until May 2000, when the county's present courthouse opened. The old courthouse continues to be used for county office space -- but not as a courthouse.
J. W. Golucke, an Atlanta architect, designed this Romanesque style brick and granite courthouse in 1899 which is unique in its Appalachian Georgia setting. The Union County Historical Society organized in 1976 to restore this courthouse and the old courthouse and the old courthouse clock which had been removed in the 1950s. The clock is proudly displayed in the courthouse lobby. After the county courthouse burned in 1898 a new courthouse, now the home of the Union County Historical Society was built. This courthouse would serve the county until 1976 when a new structure was built nearby and the old courthouse was donated to the Society.
WHITE COUNTY (Cleveland)
The brick White County Courthouse was constructed between 1859 and 1860. According to oral tradition, the bricks of the courthouse were molded and fired somewhere near Mt. Yonah (Cleveland's historic name) by black slaves. The courthouse has been restored with the efforts of the White County Historical Society. When White County was formed in 1857, Mt. Yonah was selected as the County-seat. The majority of its residents wished to rename it Sheltonville for William H. Shelton, who sponsored the formation of the new county. Shelton asked that it be named Cleveland for his good friend and mentor, Benjamin Cleveland, who served 6 terms as representative, 8 terms as senator from Habersham County and was Brigadier-General from 1820 to 1826. Built of hand-made brick by slave labor, the White County Courthouse in Cleveland is modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia.