Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Old and New Courthouses

Elementaryhistoryteacher posted on her blog Georgia On My Mind a picture of the Terrell County Courthouse in Dawson, Georgia (not to be confused with Dawsonville, which is the county seat of Dawson County). The picture shows a beautiful regal courthouse with a clock tower – the link is in the first sentence, see for yourself.

It reminded me of the Cobb County Courthouse that I grew up in its shadow. I knew my way around every room, every office, and the outside.

In the black & white picture above, see the stairs, on the right at the edge of the alley? Up at the top of the stairs was my uncle’s bonding company. He was in partners with one arm missing from the elbow (WWII) named Bill. We called him “One-Wing”. Later my uncle and One-Wing parted company and my uncle started another bonding company, just around the corner and down the street.

Behind the Old Courthouse was the Sheriff’s office and jail and next to it was a granite stone building with bars, which was the Marietta Jail. In either jail there were always some men holding onto the bars looking out when we walked by. Then, there was an urban legend that hard packs of Camels, one pack had a little statement if you flatten the pack out that stated “You won a $1,000,000” instead of their usual statement, which was something like “LSMST” . The prisoners liked to smoke and would toss their empty packs out the barred windows. We would pick up the hard Camel packs and search for that statement.

When I graduated from high school Herbert McCollum was commissioner and it was no secret he wanted to do away with the old Courthouse and replace it with a new modern building. Herbert’s wife Jessie was a gentle lady and was my 3rd grade teacher. Herbert replaced my father as Chief of the Cobb County Police with one of his political cronies. That is politics.

Herbert tried several ways to get the county to go along with replacing the courthouse with a modern one, but could not get the support. It was rumored that he would give the old janitor a dollar every so often, and the janitor would climb to the top of the tower where the clock was and toss out a brick. Herbert was hoping that the idea the Old Courthouse was crumbling and was a safety hazard. But that didn’t work.

Then the Old Courthouse mysteriously caught on fire, which the fire swept all the floors and destroyed it. That did work.

Incidentally, the bricks from the Old Courthouse is now in the shape of a private residence. The contractor paid to haul the bricks away hauled them to his property where he built a brick house.
Pictured above is the Old Courthouse and its replacements (ugh!).

Please forgive me if you are catching me posting something similar to what I posted before.

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Blogger Button Gwinnett said...

Thankfully, many counties have turned their old courthouses into museums if they are no longer functional. These new-fangled courthouses might be nice. But give me a cold, drafty, accoustically pleasing old one any day!

6:53 AM  
Blogger kenju said...

I'm sure there's no surprise when I tell you I hreatly prefer the older one. What has happened to our architects of today? They have no classic vision, no sense of grandeur.

6:54 AM  
Blogger ET said...

The two courthouses converted to museums I know of, Lumpkin and Union, by odd coincidence, are in the center of the downtown Squares and the traffic goes one-way around them. Not that is anything but just worth noting.
GRANDEUR! That was the word I was searching my mind for when I wrote this entry.

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of these courthouses down here have a spooky southern feel to them. Maybe that was the idea all along...

1:07 AM  
Blogger ET said...

Spooky and "hang 'em high!"

3:52 AM  

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