Centennial of the Historic 1917 Courthouse

In 2017, Chesterfield County celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Historic 1917 Courthouse. This courthouse is a point of pride in the community and is being preserved for future generations. It is a Chesterfield County Historic Landmark, a Virginia Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.

  1. History of the Courthouse
  2. Courthouse Commemorative Book
  3. Donations

The Historic 1917 Courthouse sits where the first 1749 colonial courthouse was once located. In 1916, plans were made to demolish the 1749 courthouse, and replace it with a larger and more modern building. This decision was met with opposition from some county residents and resulted in the first preservation struggle in the county.

Eventually, the Board of Supervisors voted to construct the new building. Eight short months later, the courthouse opened and the first case was heard. The Chesterfield County courts system still uses this courthouse today to hear cases.

Colonial Revival Architecture

The courthouse is an excellent example of Colonial Revival architecture with four prominent Roman Doric columns and portico, and crowned with an octagonal belfry. The interior woodwork in the courtroom is original. The two-story courtroom contains the original paneled judge’s bench and jury seats. Interior renovations were made in 2013 and the building was rededicated in 2014.

Original 1749 Bell

As part of the centennial celebration, the 1749 bell, which is the oldest historic artifact in Chesterfield County (and three years older than the Liberty Bell), was removed from the cupola of the 1917 courthouse. In April, it was cleaned, stabilized, the iron corrosion removed, and then it was coated to preserve it for many years to come. In October, it will be placed on permanent display in the Chesterfield County Museum. View the stabilization process video.

Replacement Bell

A replacement iron bell will be placed in the cupola to be rung for the Centennial event and at other designated times in the future.

Midlothian Masonic Lodge Number 211

The Masons were involved with the cornerstone-laying ceremony in 1917. Brother Benjamin Samuel Vincent was the Senior Warden of Midlothian Masonic Lodge No. 211 and led a delegation of Masons to assist Chesterfield County. His grandsons will be present at the October 26 event. David Immanuel Vincent Jr., and Albert Fredrick Vincent are fifth generation Midlothian Lodge members and the family has been members since 1866.

Fort Lee Centennial Exhibit

The first Camp Lee was selected as a state mobilization camp in 1917, just 18 days after a state of war with Germany was declared. It later became a division training camp. In June 1917, building began, with hundreds of Chesterfield County workers helping to construct it. Within sixty days, approximately 14,000 recruits were on the installation.

Mobilizing for War

In June, an exhibit called “Mobilizing for War” opened in the Historic 1892 Jail and will be on display through November 2018. The exhibit contains 10 WWI posters that were used to mobilize the country to either join the Army or support the war effort as civilians. The posters are from the Ordnance Department, the Quartermaster Corps and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA).

The Jail

The jail is located at 6819 Mimms Loop in the Chesterfield County Government Complex. For access to the exhibit, go to the Chesterfield County Museum located next to the jail.

Visiting

The museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. A $1 per person donation is suggested. For more information, call 804-768-7311 or visit the Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia (CHSV) website.