Friday, April 20, 2012

The courthouse

White County
In most small Tennessee county seats, the courthouse is the most imposing structure in town. It is the seat of local government and the focus of local pride. This is where legal matters are settled, and in many cases, where taxes are paid, licenses obtained, deeds registered, and where government and civic bodies meet.

Overton County 
Frequently the courthouse sits in a square at the center of town, with streets on all sides. The plaza around the building is used as a place for gatherings, either formal or informal. Before radio and television, the courthouse squares often were the sites of market gatherings on court days and caught the overflow from courtrooms packed by curious citizens seeking entertainment.

Clay County
And once they could be the place where whiskey was offered in seeking votes, and sites of election day violence. One famous family feud in another state began when a fight broke out on election day between members of the two families, resulting in a fatal stab wound.

Pickett County
Tennessee has 95 counties, with 38 having fewer than 25,000 citizens. Each is proud of its courthouse. Even Tennessee's smallest county (population 4,945; 163 sq. miles) has a magnificent courthouse.


  1. I remember being totally amazed as a young child when I first visited a courthouse. There was a blind man selling candy and gum. I understand that was common in those days.

  2. It's true here in Poteau, Ok. The courthouse is the nicest building in town and is at the center of town. These are some lovely buildings.

  3. Same all over. There's always plenty of money to build expensive buildings for local government. I remember revisiting a rather run-down area I once knew well, nothing had changed except that there were new council offices.

  4. That's a wonderful sequence of shots, Jim. I'm a fan of these small county courthouses too!