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Wilkes County

Wilkes County is named for John Wilkes, who was a British politician who supported the cause of the American colonies in the British House of Commons.

 

Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Oglethorpe County and Elbert County

E – Lincoln County

S – McDuffie County and Warren County

W – Taliaferro County and Oglethorpe County

 

Created:  February 5, 1777                    Map of Georgia highlighting Wilkes County

County Seat: 

Washington  1784 – present

 

County Courthouse – Washington 

 

Location:  23 East Court Street / Spring Street

Built:  1903 – 1904

Style:  Richardsonian Romanesque

Architect:  Frank Pierce Milburn of Washington, DC

Contractor:  Savannah Contracting Company

 

Description:  The building faces south and is a two story orange colored brick and concrete structure. The building faces onto Washington Square and is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Washington. The south front has a large square clock tower with red colored roof and large clock face. On the west is a round tower with red colored roof and at the base, an arched recessed entrance. On the east is a shorter square tower and above is a red colored diagonally crossed façade. The walls are built of an orange-colored pressed brick, and the foundations are of rough-faced ashlar. First story windows have heavy stone lintels and are subdivided horizontally by stone transom supports. Second story windows are round-arched with radiating brick voussoirs. (Terra cotta ornament fills the semi-circular spaced enclosed by some window arches.) The cornice is a simple architrave and the roof is hipped. In the interior is a curved staircase ascending to the second story where the large County Superior Court courtroom is located. The courtroom is paneled with wood and has a high ceiling. The building houses the County Superior Court, County Juvenile Court, County Probate Court and County Magistrate Court of the 10th Judicial District. The upper part of the building was destroyed by a fire in 1958. The building was renovated in 1959. The architect was Willis Irvin Architects & Associates of Augusta and the contractor was J M Long of Washington. In 1989 an addition was constructed on the north side. To the west at 103 West Court Street is the Old County Jail built in 1891 by McDonald Brothers Jail Building Company of Louisville, Kentucky. A new jail wing was added in 1911 onto the northeast rear of the courthouse and was built by J M McKenzie & Son of Augusta.

 

Note:  The building plans used were the same plans used for the construction of the Anderson County, South Carolina, Courthouse.

 

See:  The architect Frank Pierce Milburn of Washington, DC.

 

See:  National Register of Historic Places – Wilkes County Courthouse / Wilkes County Jail

 

See:  The 10th Judicial District includes Banks CountyBarrow County, Burke CountyClarke CountyColumbia CountyElbert CountyFranklin CountyGlascock CountyHart CountyJackson CountyLincoln CountyMadison CountyMcDuffie CountyNewton CountyOconee County, Oglethorpe CountyRichmond CountyTaliaferro CountyWalton County and Warren County.

 

Note:  The first state constitution in 1777 created eight counties: Burke CountyCamden County, Chatham County, Effingham County, Glynn County, Liberty County, Richmond County and Wilkes County. These were carved out of the coastal areas that were settled when Georgia was a British colony.

 

History:  The county was created in 1777 and Washington was selected as the county seat in 1784 when the county was organized. The first court met in private residence in 1779 and in other locations including Micajah Williamson’s Tavern. The first courthouse was a log structure built in 1785. In 1786, the second courthouse was a clapboard structure designed by John Chisholm. The third courthouse was a two story residence purchased from Ferdinand Phiniz in 1804. The fourth courthouse was brick structure designed by Frederick Ball and built in 1817. The fifth and present courthouse was constructed in 1903 to 1904 at a cost of $40,000.

 

 

County Courthouse – Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County Superior Court courtroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old 1911 County Jail – Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old 1891 County Jail – Washington

 

 

Photos taken 2008, 2020 and 2024