Athens-Clarke Unified Government Courthouse

Also known as: Clarke County Courthouse
N. Jackson Street & E. Washington Street, Athens, GA

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Clarke County Courthouse

Photo taken by Michael Miller in August 2011

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Description 

Since the original territory of Clarke County included what is now Oconee County, the county seat and the courthouse were first located in Watkinsville. The county seat was moved to Athens in 1871, but there was no concern to erect a new courthouse until 1875. During those four years, county meetings were held in the old Town Hall in Athens.

In 1875, a contract was awarded to construct a courthouse on the site now bounded by Prince Avenue, Hill Street, and Pope Street. The new seat of county government included three buildings: the courthouse, a jail, and a jailer's house. When the present courthouse was occupied in 1914, the structure was remodeled and became Athens High School. Today, only the old jail remains on the site.

Athens' downtown continued to develop in the early 1900s, including a new city hall and federal building. Thus, in 1913, county officials were influenced to build a new courthouse in the same area. A site was selected at the corner of Washington and Jackson streets where a blacksmith shop originally stood. Including the land, fees, and construction, the completed project totaled $219,000.

Many local businesses were listed as subcontractors. Among them were L.M. Leathers for sheet metal and roofing; the Dorsey Company for furnishings; Michael Brothers for linoleum and window shades; and Berstein Brothers for vault doors and opera chairs for the courtrooms. County offices were transferred from the Prince Avenue location in horse-drawn wagons and, according to county records, the courthouse was occupied on May 6, 1914.

The general appearance of the 1914 courthouse remains virtually unchanged today. When the courthouse opened, the ordinary (now probate judge), clerk of superior court, and offices of the tax assessor and tax collector occupied the first floor. The second floor housed the courtrooms of Judge Charles H. Brand and Judge Henry West. County offices were on the third floor and Sheriff Walter Jackson lived on the fourth floor where the jail was located, along with the prisoners. Additionally, the roof served as an exercise area for occupants of the jail. - Athens-Clarke Government Website

Part of the Downtown Athens Historic District

Update Log 

  • October 27, 2014: Added by Michael Miller

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