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Wise County Courthouse

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1896, Frank P. Milburn. E. Main St. at Spring Ave.
  • (Photograph by Tim Buchman)
  • (Virginia Department of Historic Resources)

The county seat of Wise, first known as Big Glade, was incorporated as Gladeville, and renamed Wise in 1924. Dominating the small town, this massive tan-colored brick courthouse is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in the region and one of five different southwestern Virginia courthouses designed by Milburn. The Renaissance Revival building on a rough-cut stone foundation has a first story of brick laid with deep joints to suggest rustication. The brick is laid smoothly on the upper walls, which are out-lined by stone quoins. Most of the windows are arched and the building's central pavilion finishes with a prominent stone balustrade and is flanked by pyramidal-roofed towers. The building lacks the clear horizontal definition characteristic of Renaissance Revival and its large-scale projections show the influence of Beaux-Arts Classicism. Imposing and confident, the building represents an era of prosperity for Wise County when the coal, timber, and railroad industries were bringing newfound wealth to the community.

Writing Credits

Anne Carter Lee


What's Nearby


Anne Carter Lee, "Wise County Courthouse", [Wise, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Virginia vol 2

Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, Anne Carter Lee and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015, 505-505.

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