Sunday, January 8, 2012

Courthouse Is a Crash Course in History

Okay, I'll admit the weather over the weekend was not the best, but haven't we had some lovely days over the past couple of weeks? It has been nice to get out in the car and ride around town with the sunroof open and meet various friends for lunch. The weather has made running my weekly errands a little more enjoyable as well.

Thursday was especially bright and sunny as I headed down Hospital Drive. Suddenly, I found myself turning into the parking lot of the Douglas County Courthouse. Most people only visit their local courthouse when they have some sort of business to conduct - a deed to record, taxes to pay or jury duty.

I'm a little different. Courthouses are a real draw for me for many different reasons. During my college years I spent a few months working as a junior clerk for the Superior Court of Cherokee County recording deeds and other documents. I followed that with an eighteen year career as a paralegal and eventually owned my own legal research business. Let's just say I'm one of those people who get excited over a record room piled high with old docket books, and I've been in many of the Atlanta area's courthouses.

There are other reasons why courthouses attract me. The architecture of the buildings old and new draw me in. I love walking through the building and knowing the business of government is taking place within the courthouse walls. I love the history behind the buildings, and a great courthouse will provide a little history for visitors to see as well.

My personal opinion may not mean much, but Douglas County has a great courthouse.

Take a few minutes the next time you are driving by and stop at the courthouse. There are all sorts of things to see beginning with the marvelous entrance with the grand columns. Notice the years carved into the front of the building - 1870, 1896, 1956 and 1998. The first three years represent the years past courthouse were built to serve citizens in the downtown business district. The 1998 date represents the current courthouse along Hospital Drive.

The side entrances on each side of the building are magnificent.

These doors lead to the lower floors and have creative designs in the terrazzo floor. The most magnificent feature of the building is the interior dome area. It towers over the main staircase and fills the area with light.

Make sure you stroll along the bottom floor corridor beginning at one door, cross the under the dome and then continue down the other corridor to the opposite exit. Along the way you will see several panels depicting Douglas County history - our history.

There are nine panels in all, and I'm told by Wes Tallon, director, Douglas County Department of Communications and Community Relations, they were developed under the direction of former Commissioner Claudee Abercrombie during the design phase of the courthouse.

There are panels that detail important people over the years regarding county politics and history as well as panels covering the area's natural resources and early industry. The history of the courthouse covering each of the buildings is the focus of one panel while another explains how important the railroad was to Douglasville from the very beginning.

 Mr. and Mrs. Black, their trading post, and the significance of a certain skint chestnut tree I've mentioned before are discussed as well. In fact, you can see an image of the very tree on one of the panels. There are other panels discussing the importance of cotton to the economy of early Douglas County and the factory ruins at New Manchester. The cornerstone to the original 1896 courthouse can also be found at one of the lower exits.

Don't forget to take a walk around the outside of the building where three important memorials can be found. Along the front you will see the Eternal Flame - saluting all of our veterans from various wars. The Douglas County Pathway of Service is the highest accolade Douglas County citizens can bestow on a citizen who has spent his/her life in service to others and the Walk of Honor recognizing acts of heroism and great service such as Christopher Queen, a 9-year old who rescued his 3-year old cousin who had fallen into a swimming pool are both located along the front drive.

Out on the north corner of the property you will see the Confederate memorial given to the county by the Douglas County Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1914.

Yes, Douglas County's current courthouse does an excellent job showing off our history.

Take some time to stop by the next time you are in the area. 

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