Saturday, September 5, 2009

More on the Itawamba courthouse....

Miss Zereda Greene wrote many great columns for the Itawamba County Times in which she discussed various topics of our county's history. They are a wonderful resource, and a collection of her columns can be found at the Itawamba Historical Society. In a couple of her 1966 columns, Miss Zereda wrote about the courthouse in Fulton. She indicated that when the Board of Supervisors voted in August 1936 to remodel the courthouse, the courthouse was noted to have been 87 years old at the time, which means it was built around 1849. As you can tell from the above photograph (note that a door appears to be open on the cupola in the picture!), the courthouse originally had a cupola. Miss Zereda said that the weathervane atop the cupola was used for many years as a guide during washday. Women would check the weathervane to see the direction of the wind before building a fire for the washpot. A fence surrounded the courthouse with a gate in the center of each side that had a chain and weight to keep the gate closed.

Miss Zereda worked in the Chancery Clerk's office beginning in 1920 so she had excellent recall from her time spent inside the building. She remembered that the courthouse had three chimneys on the western and eastern sides, each with a fireplace downstairs and upstairs. There was one hall that ran north to south and at one end was a set of wooden double doors that Miss Zereda indicated stood open all of the time.

The remodeling of the courthouse in 1936 was financed primarily through the WPA, or Works Progress Administration (later Works Projects Administration). The WPA was part of Roosevelt's New Deal initiative in which millions of unemployed people were put to work building public projects such as roads and public buildings. Itawamba's courthouse was one such project to benefit from the WPA program. During the remodel, which took about a year, court was held in the auditorium of IAHS. Unfortunately, as a result of the remodeling, several books and records were destroyed or lost.

A mere sixteen years later, the courthouse was in need of additional space so another remodeling project was authorized, and in 1952 an annex was erected. Below is a photograph of the courthouse following this remodel. Itawamba's courthouse kept the white stucco look until 1972 when the latest remodeling took place.


Anonymous said...

If the Itawamba Co. courthouse was built in 1849, I'd say there was possibly only one other "temporary" building that was used for carrying on county business after the Territoty became a state. Also interesting to learn just how old the courthouse was when Ron and I applied for our marriage license and observed the "shotgun" wedding in process for which I balked at getting married that day in 1951. Thankfully, the minister of the Baptist Church was in the room and offered to marry us in the sanctuary and we graciously accepted. . .bettye

Arvel said...

I remember Miss Zereda well. She was a very intelligent lady who wore ankle length dresses and old fashioned bonnets outdoors. I used to mow her yard and do odd jobs around her place. She loved her flowers, especially her multi-colored daylilies as I recall. She was the acknowledged town historian. A fine person.