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Shelby County

Shelby County is named for Isaac Shelby, who was commander at Kings Mountain, First Governor of Kentucky and who negotiated the purchase of the western districts from the Chickasaw Native Americans.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Tipton County 

E – Fayette County

S – Marshall County, Mississippi and DeSoto County, Mississippi

W – Crittenden County, Arkansas


Created:  November 24, 1819                Map of Tennessee highlighting Shelby County

County Seat: 

Memphis  1819 – present


County Courthouse – Memphis  


Location:  140 Adams Avenue / North 2nd Street

Built:  1906 – 1909

Style:  Classical Revival

Architect:  James Gamble Rogers and H D Hale of Hale & Rogers of Chicago, Illinois

Contractor:  Local trades


Description:  The building faces south and is a three story blue colored Bedford limestone, yellow colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Memphis. The south front has many columns with recessed porch. The east and west ends project from the main building with a columns on either side of the recessed entrance. The rear of the building has statuary along the cornice below the flat roof line. There is a square open courtyard in the center of the building with orange colored brick walls and statuary around the outside of the building. The main entrance is located at the southwest corner.  In the interior, are long hallways with marble floors along the outside walls and courtrooms located on the inner walls. Stairways are located at the corners. The building houses the County Circuit Court, County Chancery Court, County General Sessions Court – Civil and County Probate of the 30th Judicial District. The building is named as the Judge D’Army Bailey Courthouse. The building was renovated from 1980 to 1992. The architect was Design Associates Inc. and Hnedal & BoBo Grooup Inc. and the contractor was Inman Construction Corporation.


Note:  The courthouse has ambitious sculpture executed by J Massey Rhind and includes the pediment groups, Canon Law, Roman Law, Statutory Law, Civil Law and Criminal Law. Female allegorical figures can be found on the north facade cornice representing Integrity, Courage, Mercy, Temperance, Prudence and Learning. Flanking the main entrances are over life sized seated figures embodying Wisdom, Justice, Liberty, Authority, Peace and Prosperity.


County Criminal Courts Building – Memphis  



Location:  201 Poplar Avenue / North 3rd Street

Built:  1979 – 1981

Style:  Modern

Architect:  Mahan & Shappley Architects, Inc.

Contractor:  Gardner & Howe


Description:  The building faces south and is a twelve story concrete and glass structure. The building faces south and was completed in 1981. The rectangular shaped building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Memphis to the northeast of the courthouse. The south front has an entrance section with stairs running to a hallway beneath the front plaza. Along the first story are glass windows. The upper windows are horizontal and the roof line is flat. The building houses the County Criminal Court and County General Sessions Court – Criminal of the 30th Judicial District. The construction manager was Grinder, Taber, Grinder Inc.


Note:  The County Juvenile Court Building is located at 616 Adams Avenue and North Neely Street to the east of the courthouse.


History: The county was created in 1819 and Memphis was selected as the county seat. The first courthouse was a log structure built in Memphis in 1820. In 1827, Shelby County government moved into a small frame building outside Memphis in a town they named Raleigh as a favor to the first circuit clerk of Shelby County, who had moved from North Carolina and wanted to honor his native state. It is uncertain why Shelby County government moved to Raleigh, but in 1868 the county seat was brought back to Memphis. The third courthouse was housed in the Overton Hotel constructed in 1874. The fourth and present courthouse was constructed in 1906 to 1909. The Criminal Courts Building was constructed in 1979 to 1981.


County Administration Building – Memphis  



Location:  160 North Main Street / Poplar Avenue

Built:  1966 – 1968

Style:  Modern

Architect:  Gassner-Nathan-Browne-Hagland & Venable

Contractor:  Harmon Construction Company


Description:  The building faces west and is a twelve story concrete and glass structure. The rectangular shaped building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Memphis to the west of the courthouse. The first story has a recessed section with pillars which rise as horizontal dividers between the square windows. The roof line is flat. 


County Hall of Records – Memphis 



Location:  150 Washington Avenue / North 2nd Street

Built:  1924 – 1925

Style:  Renaissance

Architect:  Jones & Furbrinder

Contractor:  Kaucher Hodges & Company


Description:  The building faces south and is a five story stone structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Memphis on the north side of the courthouse. The south front has a projecting center section with arched entrance on the first story and three narrow vertical windows on the second story. The first and second stories have a parapet along the roof line with the third to fifth stories being recessed. The building served as the Criminal Courts until 1982 and is located on the north side of the courthouse.


Note:  The lowest point in Tennessee is the Mississippi Rive at 182 feet ( 55 meters ) which is located in the county.



County Courthouse – Memphis



































































County Criminal Courts Building – Memphis









County Administration  Building – Memphis









County Hall of Records – Memphis











Photos taken 2011 and 2018