Robertson County was established April 9, 1796, during the first session of the General Assembly of Tennessee. The act provided commissioners to establish the county government system and raise money to build a courthouse and jail. Court meetings were held at the homes of Jacob McCarty and, Benjamin McIntosh, then George Bell's store. July 15, 1799 the first courthouse was completed which was a log structure. Very little description remains other than the February 1805 court orders to "contract for the building of a frame addition to the west end of the Court House 12 feet in length to be as high as the House with a partition through it of planks to make two jury rooms with a window on each side of the addition with a chimney of brick or stone with a fire place in each jury room to terminate in one funnel, the whole is to be done in as workman a like manner as the present court house and of as good materials."
In November 1806, an order was given for "stocks to be erected on the public square". At that time some punishment for crimes were recorded as being lashes and days in the stock. During the years 1818 through 1820 special tax collected amounted to $6842.29 and the old log courthouse with its addition, and the brick and rock attached to it were sold. These funds were used to build our second Courthouse. The second courthouse built in 1819 was a two story square brick building with walls 44 feet long placed on a stone foundation. The walls above the foundation were 30 feet high. In July 1847 a committee was appointed to investigate the cost to dig a well and obtain good water on the Public Square as near the Court House as practical. After the fall of Fort Donelson in February 1862 during the War Between the States, Union forces occupied the city and county. Much of the business normally handled in the Courthouse was delayed. Chancery Court was closed from November 1861 to May 1865. During 1878 a civil engineer report stated "this building is liable to fall at any time from hard wind and heavy rain", thus in January 1879 a building committee was appointed to procure plans relative to building a new Court House. At a cost of $20,959.40 the third Court House was built in the architectural design called Second Empire. This building is within the center section of what you see today.
The third county courthouse built in 1879 shown with the iron fence, gate and posts which were added in January 1881. This fence was removed and sold in October 1918. The Courthouse was erected with four small rooms to be used as water closets. When the sewer was completed in 1906 these rooms were completed as restrooms at a cost of $200. Approval was given in April 1911 to proceed to have the building wired for the purpose of being lighted by electricity.
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1910 Chancery Court Clerk E.A. Hicks seated at desk; notice the telephone wires hanging from the ceiling. The large oak cabinet on the left side of the photograph was fitted with tin storage boxes in which the Chancery Court cases loose papers were stored.
This 1879 custom cabinet is on display at Robertson County Archives.
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A committee was appointed in July 1928 to study the needs of the courthouse. They found that the building was a good one in need of repairs, but too small for the needs of the court. Thus construction began and in 1929 the north and south wings, and the clock tower were added at a cost of $106,685.12. Sand colored brick was added to the entire structure but the old red brick on the center section of 1879 is visible inside the attic.
Additions being made in 1929 changed the architectural style to Italian Renaissance Revival.
The banner is advertising the move called Dynamite being shown at a nearby theater.
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This 1940's era photo shows dark areas on the tower which weighs 135 tons. These areas were early signs of water infiltration which caused damage to the exterior precast concrete and interior steel structure. During the 1960's through 1980's engineers reported continuing deterioration of the structure. Repairs were made and a major restoration was completed in 1982. However, the structural problems were not corrected. During 2005 through 2007 nearly four million dollars was spent to replace the damages with new material, change the steel structure for longevity and renovate the building making it viable for continued court use.
The Robertson County Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.