Historic 1917 Courthouse...
c. 1917 Historic Courthouse
The historic 1917 Chesterfield County Courthouse stands in a majestic setting along Iron Bridge Road (Route 10) where it dominates the Courthouse Green, a national and state-listed historic district. Facing a brick Veterans Memorial Wall and surrounded by three other historic buildings – the 1828 Clerk’s Office, the 1889 Clerk’s Office and the Historic 1892 Jail – our 1917 Courthouse occupies the footprint of the first Chesterfield County courthouse built in 1749 but demolished in 1916, against the will of local citizenry. This early preservation case was the subject of heated debate between concerned citizens wanting to save their Colonial-era courthouse and prominent residents who argued successfully in favor of replacing it with a more imposing structure. The cornerstone of the new courthouse was laid on October 26, 1917 during the annual County Fair, followed by a parade of 100 men drafted to serve in World War I who were encamped in the courthouse yard.
On February 5, 1918, a contract was awarded to Vaughan Construction of Shawsville, VA, to construct a new brick building measuring 48x48 feet. The doors of the new courthouse officially opened on May 2, 1918. An all-day picnic was held and all schools encouraged their pupils to participate in the festive program. Judge Robert G. Southall took the bench for the first term of the court on May 13, 1918. The 1917 Courthouse sits in the "historic Courthouse Green", an area of the Chesterfield County Complex, along with the historic 1892 Jail, the Chesterfield Museum and across the road from our Magnolia Grange house Museum.
For security reasons, the 1917 Courthouse does not allow tours or events unless scheduled through the Office of the Sheriff. Most events are held in front of the courthouse and the front steps can be utilized. Any event will require coordination with the Sheriff's Department. The Courthouse has only been closed a few short times. It once hosted the home of the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia and also went though a couple of renovations. It sits on the spot where the first original 1749 Courthouse was located. It was the subject of the first Preservation Case in Chesterfield County in 1916-17. One of the oldest Chesterfield County artifacts, the 1749 Historic Cupola Bell was replaced in 2018 during the 2018 Courthouse Centennial and now hangs in the Chesterfield Museum. You can still hear the 1749 Bell ringing its last bell tone in 2018. Just visit the Chesterfield Museum.
Our 1917 Courthouse Facts.
The Chesterfield Historical Society of VA was granted permission to move into the 1917 Courthouse in 1990 where it operated a small research library and opened its first Museum Gift Shop. In 1998, the Society relocated to Castlewood when the 1917 Courthouse reverted to its original use as a court facility. Pictured above at the top left in the Photograph Gallery, the historic structure is now an active court and not available to tours.
In Colonial Chesterfield, the historic 1749 bell rang when the Decalaration of Indepence was read on the courthouse steps, it rang when the British were on their way from Chester in 1781. It rang when the Union Army marched from Chester in 1865 and it has rung for jail breaks and common emergencies and for disasters like the "not so long agao" mass shooting at Virginia Tech. It is the second oldest artifact belonging to the citizens of Chesterfield County, VA. The artifactis preserved and now hangs in the Chesterfield Museum.
Selecting the photographs will give you a larger view.