A 1758 act of North Carolina colonial assembly required the court for the Northampton, Edgecombe, and Granville districts to be moved from Enfield to Halifax. On the lot in front of you, the colony constructed a new courthouse, along with a jail, stocks, and pillory in 1759. Little is known of its appearance or design. Originally, the building contained the clerk of courts office. In 1833, the courthouse was enlarged and new fireproof building was constructed for the clerk of court.
The Fourth and Fifth Provincial Congresses met in the courthouse, even though much of the work of the committees charged with drafting the Halifax Resolves and the first North Carolina state constitution probably took place in other locations.
Perhaps the first public proclamation of the Declaration of Independence in North Carolina occurred in front of the courthouse, when Cornelius Harnett read the document to an assembled crowd on August 1, 1776.
At mid-day Cornelius Harnett ascended a rostrum which had been erected in front of the Court House, and even as he opened the scroll, upon which was written the immortal words of the Declaration, the enthusiasm of the immense crowd broke forth in one loud swell of rejoicing and prayer. . . .When he had finished, all the people shouted with joy and the cannon, sounding from fort to fort, proclaimed the glorious tidings that all the Thirteen Colonies were now free and independent States. From Joseph Seawell Jones, A Defence of the Revolutionary History of the State of North Carolina. Boston and Raleigh,1834.
By the 1840s, the courthouse had outlived its usefulness and the county replaced it with an antebellum structure on Pitt Street in 1849. In 1910, with the exception of the vault, it was torn down and replaced by a structure that presently stands on the site, now Pittsylvania Street. In 1987, the county built a new courthouse on Ferrell Lane.