Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Old Courthouse

The old county courthouse building, corner of Main and Washington streets. This is the main pediment, showing the arched windows of the second floor courtroom. See below for the full façade.

When it was first completed in 1896 (after a 1797 courthouse had been torn down), a local resident touted it as "the cheapest good building and best cheap building" ever built in the county.

This courthouse has been the center of much controversy in Lexington over the last decade or so. The county of Rockbridge, which owns the building, had allowed in to fall into disrepair. A former judge (now deceased) caused the state of Virginia to bring a suit against the county and city for repairs and upgrades. To make a long story short (and such things seem always to be a very long story around here, and often to involve lawsuits), a new modern courthouse 3 times the size of this one is nearing completion 2 blocks away. And no one will ever call it the cheapest good building ever built in these parts.

The Main street façade of the old courthouse:


Tanya said...

It's a beautiful building and a shame they let it go. What will they use this for when the new one is completed?

jill said...

It looks good now. So it was saved from disrepair? Hope it is put to many good uses.

mkhansen said...

Oh my goodness, no, they haven't repaired it yet -- it hasn't been falling apart for long enough! The earlier courthouse was observed to be getting pretty shabby by the 1870's, but was allowed a good 20 more years of neglect. (I happen to know these things because I was involved in the local effort to preserve this one.)

However, the present courthouse appears about to be taken under the stewardship of Washington & Lee. I think they will have the foresight to keep it up.

Anonymous said...

I came here from Dusty Lens's blog. You've got some great pics here but I love this one. Stunning building and the tree in front of it really adds to the photo.