The Old Courthouse

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Ahhhh….the old courthouse. That old clock tower has stood watch over our county since 1834, a mere 13 years after the county was founded. For me however, it is a view that says “home”.  

When I was little, that old clock never quite worked right. Sometimes it was running, but the time would be way off. Other times, the time would be right. And then other times, it just didn’t run at all. On the occasion that we would ride by at the time that was on the clock, I would comment, “hey, the clock is right!” to which my Daddy would reply, twice a day every day. Oh the memories. 

When the Olympics came to town in 1996, they finally fixed that old clock and renovated that old courthouse. The clock has pretty much been right ever since, so you can set your watch by it now. Of course, the courthouse was still in use up until then. Court was held regularly in there when I was a girl, so I never really got to see the inside of it. I remember going to observe court in session when I was in a Business Law class in high school, and once I had jury duty after I was married. But those are the only two times I ever really remember going inside of the building. 

On Wednesday, that changed. For the first time, I went in and explored that old building, and I am so thankful that my friend, Deborah, talked me into it. We were greeted by some friendly Newton County Sheriff’s Deputies at the desk. They told us to look around and try not to get in any trouble. They also told us about some other interesting buildings in town from an architectural viewpoint, so I may go and get some photos of those in the near future. 

The first things that greet you when you step into this old building are the ornate staircases. They are beautifully crafted, and there are three flights of stairs. 

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At the top of each flight is a very large window looking out over the town. However, I’m 5’9″ tall, and I couldn’t even peer up and out of these windows on tip toe. Perhaps they were designed more for lighting the building than for gazing out. 

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On the second floor is the courtroom. How I never knew that there was only one courtroom is a mystery. For some reason I always thought there were several. The seating looked like pews from an old church, and the floor was inclined so that everyone could see what was going on with the trial. I didn’t get any pictures of the seating, but I did get a few of the balcony with the beautiful old clock.

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The ceiling had a very interesting design as well, and you can see ceilings like this in many of the older buildings around the square (the ones that haven’t been covered by drop ceilings anyway). 

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The courtroom now serves as the place where the Newton County Board of Commissioners meets, so the building is still being used regularly and is open for the public for these important meetings. 

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As we explored the outside of the building, we saw a lonely chimney at the side between the courthouse and the Mystic Grill. 

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Inside we found a fireplace that this lonely chimney likely connects to.

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As you walk out the doors, you notice the beauty of the entrance that you may not have noticed on the way in. The ornate arches and beautiful brickwork done by the masons of the day and the beauty of the square awaiting you make you just want to sit down on the steps and take it all in for a few minutes. 

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I am so happy to have taken the opportunity to explore my old courthouse, and I am so glad that I live in this beautiful Georgia community where my father lived, his mother before him, countless generations since before the official establishment of this county, and now my children who have grown up here and can call this place home as well.

 

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