Rutherford County, Tenessee
Almost all of the buildings that surround the courthouse now date from after the Civil War.
Constructed in a restrained frugality more than stylistic choice, these structures replaced the earlier stores and warehouses that composed the antebellum streetscape around the town square. Fire, abuse, and the intentional demolition of residential, religious, and commercial properties for their materials conspired to deprive both the county seat and Rutherford County as a whole of much of its original architectural heritage.
The few contemporary photographs of Murfreesboro that have survived the war hint at a conservative architectural tradition — one that primarily consisted of simple Federal style buildings featuring central entrances, symmetrical facades, and very little ornamentation. These solid two-story brick store buildings demonstrate the stability achieved by their owners only two generations removed from the frontier. But stability led to prosperity, and prosperity demanded new and up-to-date improvements.
The expansion of local businesses began well before the interruption caused by the war. The coming of the railroad in 1851 ensured Murfreesboro's success as a center of trade. More improved structures were need to meet the demands of more sophisticated customers who patronized the establishments. The devastation caused by the war can be seen as a mixed blessing, since in many cases it cleared the way for the construction of large, attractive, and well ventilated buildings that would better serve a modern clientele.