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Hanover County Courthouse

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c. 1737–1741. Courthouse green, east side of U.S. 301
  • Clerk's office
  • Clerk's office
  • Clerk's office
  • Jail
  • Jail

Situated on a spacious green, the Hanover County Courthouse is very similar to other arcade courthouses, especially that in contiguous King William County. T-shaped with a hipped roof, five-bay arcade, and fine brickwork, the building is imposing though diminutive. It has been renovated several times, and nothing remains of the original interior. The courtroom was expanded in the nineteenth century, first with a small extension to the rear or east end, which was replaced by a larger, 10-foot bay in the late nineteenth century. Unfortunately, the common bond (every fifth course composed of headers) used for the brick of the extension was replaced with Flemish bond with glazed headers to match the original section. This replacement was part of a very thorough restoration of the building in the 1950s, which obliterated evidence of earlier alterations and decorative features.

Patrick Henry argued several cases here and in 1774 gave an important address. Until the Virginia legislature passed a law in the early 1790s requiring the construction of fireproof clerk's offices, many court clerks kept the county records in their personal possession, often miles from the courthouse. Such was the case in Hanover County, where only in the second quarter of the nineteenth century was the first purpose-built clerk's office built just northwest of the colonial courthouse. The building has more than tripled in size over the last 150 years from the original three-bay, one-story brick portion measuring 35 by 22 feet. Also on the grounds is the jail (c. 1840), built of locally quarried sandstone.

Writing Credits

Richard Guy Wilson et al.


What's Nearby


Richard Guy Wilson et al., "Hanover County Courthouse", [Hanover, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 133-134.

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