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Northumberland County

Northumberland County is named for Northumberland County in the United Kingdom.


Surrounding County Courthouses: 

N – Saint Mary’s County, Maryland

E – Somerset County, Maryland and Accomack County

S – Lancaster County and Richmond County

W – Westmoreland County


Created:  October 12, 1648                    Map of Virginia highlighting Northumberland County

County Seat: 

Hull Neck                                  1649 – 1679

Coan                                         1679 – 1680

Northumberland Court House  1680 – 1798

Heathsville                                1798 – present


County Courts Building – Heathsville 


Location:  220 Judicial Place / Northumberland Highway

Built:  1996 – 1997

Style:  Modern

Architect:  William C Newman

Contractor:  NSC Construction


Description:  The building faces northeast and is a one story white colored brick, concrete and glass structure. The building is located on spacious landscaped grounds in the center of Heathsville to the west of the courthouse. The north front has a projecting central tower rising above the roof line and with an arch and glass entrance on each of the three sides. The windows are horizontal and the roof is hipped. The building houses the County Circuit Court, County General District Court and County Juvenile Court of the 15th Judicial Circuit. The building is named as the Northumberland County Courts Building. 


Note: The contractor, NSC Construction went bankrupt during the construction of the courthouse and the bonding company completed the construction.


County Courthouse – Heathsville 



Location:  72 Monument Place / Judicial Place

Built:  1850 – 1851 / 1900 – 1901

Style:  Queen Anne and Colonial Revival

Architect:  John Donohoo / Bartholomew Smith

Contractor:  John Donohoo /  B F Smith Fireproofing Company


Description:  The building faces east and is a two story white colored brick and concrete structure. The building is located on landscaped grounds in the center of Heathsville. The building has a raised basement. The east front has wide porch supported by four sets of double columns rising to a balcony on the second story. The first and second story entrances are arched. On the roof is a central dormer with small window. Plain pilasters define the corners of the building, and the eaves are embellished with a heavy wooden cornice with oversized modillions. The roof is hipped. In the interior, the building is bisected by a central passage leading to offices on the main story. A handsome plaster ceiling medallion probably dating to 1851 remains in the central passage. The second story accommodates the courtroom and a broad lobby. The old courtroom has walls which are lined with old tablets listing the names of many early county leaders. The building was remodeled in 1900 to 1901. The architect was Bartholomew Smith and the contractor was B F Smith Fireproofing Company. The annexes on the north and south sides of the building were built in 1964 and 1974. The building houses the county administration.


Note:  The courthouse when built in 1850 to 1851 by John Donohoo, was a two and a half story brick structure that resembled a typical plantation dwelling rather than a public building.


Note:  The old jail is located on the west side and was built in 1839, and on the eve of its closure in 1958 it was the third oldest county jail in Virginia still in use. The interior remains as it was when the county transferred inmates to the new jail, completed in 1960 on a parcel fifty yards south. Now vacant and essentially unaltered, the old jail is owned by the Northumberland Historical Society.


See:  National Register of Historic Places – Heathsville Historic District


See:  The 15th Judicial Circuit includes Caroline CountyEssex County, Fredericksburg, Hanover CountyKing George CountyLancaster CountyRichmond County, Spotsylvania CountyStafford County and Westmoreland County


History:  The county was created as in 1648 and Heathsville, then called Northumberland Court House until 1798 became the county seat in 1680. The first courthouse was built in 1660 to 1663 in the Hull Neck area. In 1679, the courthouse was moved to Coan along the Coan River near Heathsville. The second courthouse was a plain framed structure with plaster interior designed and built by John Huglett in Heathsville in 1680 to 1681. The third courthouse was a brick structure1 built by Joseph Humphryes in 1703 to 1706. The fourth and present courthouse was built in 1850 to 1851 and substantially remodeled in 1900 to 1901. The County Courts Building was constructed in 1996 to 1997.



County Courts Building – Heathsville



















County Courthouse – Heathsville

















Old County Jail – Heathsville



Photos taken 2013