This attractive, cream-colored brick temple of justice replaces an 1848 structure that burned in 1910. The fire likely aided the court in selecting an architect for the new building, who is identified by a plaque in the vestibule: “B. F. Smith Fireproof Construction Co. Architects and Builders, Washington, D.C. C. W. Spencer, superintendent. A.D. MDCCCCXI.” Smith was president and chief architect of a Washington, D.C., company generally more regarded for its construction skills—especially, as its name suggests, for its expertise in safeguarding against fire—than its design talents. In fact, it may well be that Smith does not deserve quite as much credit as the plaque gives him. The year before he worked here, he, along with the Roanoke, Virginia, firm of Huggins & Bates, designed the Franklin County, Virginia, Courthouse. Except for the cupolas, the two buildings are virtually identical. Whoever deserves the credit, the Wirt County Courthouse is a well-proportioned Beaux-Arts classical building that visually dominates Elizabeth. Behind a pedimented Ionic portico is a two-story central block with a full entablature. The main block is covered with a pyramidal roof and flanked by shallow side wings. A tall, ogee-domed cupola contains clock faces on each of its four sides.
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Wirt County Courthouse
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