Upon the creation of Warren County in 1793, court was first held at the home of James McCormick. In 1796, the location was moved to the plantation of Sterling Gardner, which was designated the official county seat. It is said that a courthouse was built on the Warrenton square in 1809, but little to no evidence has been found to corroborate this fact. In 1820-1821, the first documented courthouse was built and it served Warren County until it was destroyed by fire in 1909. The present courthouse replaced it upon completion in 1910. It was the work of Walter Chamberlain, an architect in Birmingham, Alabama, responsible for at least two other Georgia courthouses.
This Mid-Century Modern structure, now known as the “old county courthouse”, is slated for redevelopment, having been sold by the county circa 2019. It replaced a much more traditional 1898 courthouse and has been widely despised by the community since its construction. The clock tower was added in 1983 but did nothing to appease the building’s legion of detractors. A new court complex was in use by 2013.
Marietta architects Eugene Boswell and Richard Nash (firm of Boswell & Nash) designed the Pickens County Courthouse in the Stripped Classical style, using local marble siding. It was built to replace the 1888 courthouse, located on the same lot, which burned in 1947. Samuel Tate, owner of the Georgia Marble Company, sold the marble to the county at cost and lent his principal marble designer, J. B. Hill, to oversee the installation of the veneers.
The Elisha Winn House was built about 1812 in what was then Jackson County, and is perhaps the oldest extant house in the Atlanta metro area. Winn, who was a Justice of the Inferior Court, purchased the land, with Roger and Elijah Pugh, in 1809. It was part of a 7300 acre tract bordered by the Apalachee River. It became part of Gwinnett County on 15 December 1818, when the Georgia legislature created the counties of Gwinnett, Walton, and Hall, in part from Jackson County, as well as from former Indian lands.
The property is also significant as the first de facto center of government in Gwinnett County, hosting the Inferior Court and the first county elections. A barn on the grounds [no longer extant] hosted the Superior Court. Elisha Winn served as a judge of the Inferior Court from 1820-1825. He also served as a state senator for Gwinnett County in 1826, and a state representative in 1830, 1833, and 1837.
Lawrenceville was established as the Gwinnett County seat in 1821 and the Winns relocated there circa 1824.
Historic Structures Relocated to the Elisha Winn Property
Several structures representative of 19th and early-20th-century history in Gwinnett County have been relocated to the Winn property over the years. A representative mule barn [built in another county in 1917], can be seen in the background of the photo below.
Old Lawrenceville Jail, 1820s
The first jail in Gwinnett County was located on the Winn property but was demolished in 1933 by Jack Sims, who owned it at the time, and his employee Amos Hutchins, who lived most of his life on the old Winn place. As part of a collection of historical buildings, the old Lawrenceville jail [above], built in the 1820s and similar to the original jail, was relocated here for preservation. [Moravian missionaries who refused to get permits to live in Cherokee territory were briefly held in this structure before being transferred to a larger jail in Walton County].
Walnut Grove Schoolhouse, 1875
Typical of rural one-room schoolhouses of the era, the Walnut Grove school was originally located near Walnut Grove Church and the Methodist Campground. It was donated to the Gwinnett Historical Society in 1986 and opened for tours in 1988.
Cotton House, Early 20th Century
Structures of this type would have been present on working cotton plantations and farms in late-19th and early-20th century Gwinnett County. This example was donated to the historical society in 2001.
Alfred R. Clack Blacksmith Shop, Circa 1910
Dr. Donald S. Bickers, who also donated the cotton house, donated this structure to the historical society in 2000. It was built circa 1910 by his grandfather, Alfred R. Clack, who used it until late in his life. He died in 1948 and Dr. Bickers kept the structure in good condition.
National Register of Historic Places [Elisha Winn House, excluding other structures]
This courthouse, designed by English-born American architect Edmund George Lind*, served Gwinnett County until 1988, when population growth necessitated a move to a larger more modern facility. It is maintained as an event space today.
*- Lind, who practiced architecture in Atlanta from 1882-1892, also designed the Mary Willis Library in Washington.
Golucke & Stewart designed this courthouse in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, which they also employed in the plans of the Schley, Union, and Madison county courthouses. Though its appearance has been altered by expansions over the years, it remains a focal point of downtown McDonough.
This structure replaced the original Clayton County Courthouse, built on this site in 1860 and burned during the Battle of Jonesboro. It was decommissioned in 1898 and has served as the Jonesboro Lodge No. 87 F & AM ever since.
Jonesboro Historic District, National Register of Historic Places
The handsome Second Empire Newton County Courthouse in Covington is Georgia’s most recognizable, from its appearance in numerous television series and films. Designed by the venerable firm of Bruce and Morgan, it was an ambitious structure for its time, reflecting the prosperity of the county it represented. Most people will recognize it from the hit television series, In the Heat of the Night, which filmed in Covington for much of its run. It was also used as the Hazzard County Courthouse on the first five episodes of The Dukes of Hazzard.