Oldest Courthouses in America

8 Oldest Courthouses in America

The United States has a rich history, and one of the most fascinating aspects of this history is the legal system. The oldest courthouses in America offer a glimpse into the country’s legal past, showcasing architectural styles and design trends from different eras. In this blog article, we will look at eight of the oldest courthouses in America.

From the grand Georgian-style Sussex County Courthouse in New Jersey to the humble, early colonial-era Eastville Courthouse in Virginia, these buildings have stood the test of time and remind us of our legal heritage.

Whether you’re a history buff, an architecture enthusiast, or simply curious about the legal system, these courthouses will captivate your interest.

8. Sussex County Courthouse

Year Built: 1765
Location: Newton, New Jersey
Area: 0.8 acres
Designed By: Fowler & Andrews, Amos A. Harrison

Sussex County Courthousephoto source: Wikimedia Commons

The Sussex County Courthouse is a historic building in Newton, New Jersey. It was constructed in 1765, making it one of the oldest courthouses in the United States that is still in use today. The courthouse is situated on 0.8 acres of land in the heart of downtown Newton and is a prominent landmark.

The architectural firm of Fowler & Andrews and Amos A. Harrison designed the courthouse.

It was built in the Georgian style of architecture, which was popular in the mid-18th century. The building features a symmetrical facade with a central entrance flanked by two columns. The building is red brick, with white wood trim and a slate roof. The courthouse’s interior has been updated to accommodate modern needs, but many original features remain intact.

Did You Know?

Visitors can still see the original courtroom, furnished with 18th-century furniture and fittings.


7. Charleston County Courthouse

Year Built: 1753
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
Area: Unspecified
Designed By: James Hoban

Charleston County Courthousephoto source: Wikipedia

The Charleston County Courthouse is a historic building in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina. Built in 1753, it is one of the oldest courthouses in the United States and has a rich history that spans over two and a half centuries. The courthouse was designed by James Hoban, famous for designing the White House in Washington, D.C.

The Charleston County Courthouse is an excellent example of Georgian architecture, with its symmetrical facade and central entrance. It features a beautiful brick exterior with white trim and a hipped roof. Today, the courthouse continues to be an important landmark in Charleston, and its historic significance draws visitors worldwide.

Did You Know?

The courthouse has undergone several renovations and restorations over the years, including a major restoration in the 1950s that aimed to bring the building back to its original glory.


6. King and Queen County Courthouse

Year Built: 1750
Location: Shacklefords, Virginia
Area: 11.5 acres
Designed By: Unspecified

King and Queen County Courthousephoto source: King and Queen County Courthouse

The King and Queen County Courthouse is a historic courthouse in King and Queen County, Virginia, United States. The original portion of the courthouse was built around 1750 and has undergone extensive rebuilding and remodeling due to fires and other factors.

During the Civil War, the courthouse was the site of a particularly violent incident when Union forces set fire to the building in retaliation for the murder of a Union general by local Home Guard militia.

Despite these setbacks, the courthouse was rebuilt and expanded to accommodate the county’s growing population. The courthouse is an important landmark in the county and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Did You Know?

In 1997, a new courthouse was constructed to handle most of the county’s judicial proceedings, but the old courthouse remains active and continues to handle court proceedings.


5. Richmond County Courthouse

Year Built: 1748
Location: Warsaw, Virginia
Area: 9.9 acres
Designed By: Landon Carter, T. Buckler Ghequiere

Richmond County Courthousephoto source: Wikipedia

The Richmond County Courthouse, located in the Northern Neck region of Virginia, is a historically significant building that has stood the test of time. Built in 1748, the courthouse is a fine example of early classical Palladian-style architecture and has remained the county courthouse.

The courthouse is a two-story brick building with a hipped roof and pedimented entrance portico. Its architectural style is a testament to the influence of British architecture on colonial Virginia.

The symmetry of the building and its restrained use of decorative elements are typical of the Palladian style, a style named after the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio, who greatly influenced the neoclassical architectural movement.

Did You Know?

During the American Revolution, it was the site of a meeting between George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.


4. Hanover County Courthouse

Year Built: 1735
Location: Hanover Court House, Virginia
Area: Unspecified
Designed By: Unspecified

Hanover County Courthousephoto source: Richmond Region Tourism

While it is often cited as built in 1735, state records indicate that Hanover County Courthouse was constructed between 1737 and 1742. Regardless of its exact date of construction, it is widely regarded as one of the oldest courthouses still in use in the United States.

The courthouse is particularly noteworthy for its association with lawyer and patriot Patrick Henry, who used it as a local county seat. In 1763, Henry argued the case of the Parson’s Cause in this courthouse, a case that has become a landmark event in American history.

The Parson’s Cause involved King George III’s requirement that Virginia residents pay taxes to support the local Anglican Church ministry, despite the objections of Virginia residents and the colonial legislature.

Henry accused the King of tyranny in overturning colonial law without regard for the wishes of his subjects. His arguments were widely regarded as one of the prelude events leading to the American Revolution.

Did You Know?

In 1774, the courthouse was once again the site of significant local preparation for the first assembly of the Virginia Convention, which considered grievances against British rule.


3. Charles City County Courthouse

Year Built: Late 1730s
Location: Charles City, Virginia
Area: Less than one acre
Designed By: Unspecified

Charles City County Courthousephoto source: Wikipedia

The Charles City County Courthouse, located in Charles City, Virginia, was built in the late 1730s and is a significant historical landmark in the region. Although the identity of the architect who designed the courthouse is unknown, its simple yet elegant design is a testament to the influence of Georgian architecture in colonial Virginia.

The courthouse is situated on less than one acre of land and features a rectangular plan with a hipped roof and a central entrance portico.

Its brick exterior is adorned with minimal ornamentation, and the building’s symmetry and proportion are characteristic of the Georgian style.

Over the years, the Charles City County Courthouse has played an important role in Virginia’s legal and political history. It has been the site of numerous court proceedings and trials and has also served as a gathering place for local citizens to discuss important issues of the day.

Did You Know?

During the American Revolution, the courthouse was used as a meeting place for patriots who were organizing resistance to British rule.


2. Old Salem County Courthouse

Year Built: 1735
Location: Salem County, New Jersey
Area: Unspecified
Designed By: Edwards & Green

Old Salem County Courthousephoto source: Pinterest

The Old Salem County Courthouse is historic in Salem County, New Jersey. It was built in 1735 and is one of the oldest courthouses in the United States. The courthouse was designed by architects Edwards & Green and is considered an excellent example of Georgian-style architecture.

The courthouse is rectangular, with a central entrance and a pedimented gable roof. The exterior is brick, and the building features a decorative entablature with dentil molding. The courthouse’s interior features a large courtroom with wooden paneling, a high ceiling, and several smaller offices and chambers.

Did You Know?

Today, the Old Salem County Courthouse is open to the public and serves as a museum and cultural center. Visitors can learn about the courthouse’s history and its important role in shaping New Jersey’s history.


1. King William County Courthouse

Year Built: 1725
Location: King William, Virginia
Area: 3 acres
Designed By: Unspecified

King William County Courthousephoto source: King William History

The King William County Courthouse, located in King William, Virginia, is the oldest courthouse in America, built in 1725. The courthouse is situated on a spacious 3-acre lot, and its classic colonial architecture is a testament to the enduring legacy of Virginia’s colonial period. Although the architect who designed the courthouse is unknown, its design is typical of the period and features a rectangular shape with a central entrance and a hipped roof.

Over the years, the King William County Courthouse has played an important role in Virginia’s legal and political history. It has been the site of numerous court proceedings and trials, and it has also served as a meeting place for local government officials and community leaders. During the American Revolution, the courthouse was used as a military barracks for troops fighting against British forces.

Did You Know?

The building’s brick exterior is accented with minimal ornamentation, and its symmetrical proportions are characteristic of the Georgian style.


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