Webster County Courthouse Burns

We heard early yesterday that the Webster County Courthouse in the tiny town of Walthall caught fire around 2:30 AM and was not completely under control until 7 o’clock. Tom Freeland at the North Mississippi Commenter posted an update yesterday afternoon.

Preservation architect Belinda Stewart, who lives in Walthall and whose office is in Eupora just down the road, sent these pictures of the building from early morning through last night. She described the scene as surreal, especially with our snowy night and later blue-sky day. She noted that all the courthouse records were saved–which seems miraculous looking at this picture!–and have been removed for preservation.

Webster CH Walthall

WebsterCH2 (1024x680) WebsterCH4 (1024x680) WebsterCH3 (1024x680) Webster CH (1024x680)

Belinda also had the following thoughts late last night after a long exhausting day:

The building is standing.  We thankfully have a copy of the original drawings and therefore have been able to show how well this building is constructed.  The basement and first floor levels are fairly intact.  The most severe damage is at the courtroom.  The roof is completely destroyed and 2 of the 4 large steel trusses collapsed.  Many of the windows and all of the doors are destroyed.  The only wood structure was the roof and second floor ceiling joists. The floors are constructed of concrete and clay tile.

The courthouse was built in 1915 and designed by the firm of Overstreet, Spencer & Paine and built by Little-Cleckler Construction Co. of Anniston, AL. This was from the early career of N.W. Overstreet, who began practice in Jackson in 1912.  Other buildings designed by this firm are the YMCA at MSU (1914) and the Franklin County Courthouse in Meadville (1913).

Webster County Courthouse, 2010

Webster County Courthouse, 2010

Categories: Courthouses, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation

17 replies

  1. So sad! I hope it will be restored. If not, I hope the bricks and anything that can be saved will not go the way of the Ceres Plantation. I hope Belinda Stewart will be all over this and will be able to save it and also keep us informed to decisions regarding the future of this wonderful building.


  2. I hope that it will be restored as well, though I fear the bean counters may whine about the cost of doing so. It is important to preserve this and I hope the county will see the benefits of restoration.


    • You are right. I hope the bean counters can see that in reality the cost difference between restoration of the existing building and a new building might not be to far apart when all factors are considered. Since the restoration will be labor intensive more money will stay in Webster County. As opposed to a new building where the money will be spent of materials that will come from out of the state or even out of the country.


  3. County officials and residents have been lobbying for a new courthouse. They would like to relocate the county seat from the tiny village of Walthal to nearby Eupora. This would conflict with State law mandating the county seat be located in the geographic center of the county, (except in the case of counties with more than one judicial district, in which case the county seat is divided, one at the center of each district).


  4. So sorry to hear this. My mother was from Eupora. Her father was Attorney, State Senator and Judge Luther F. Latham. I’m sure he held forth from this courtroom many times.


  5. Am I wrong, or does the South have a facination with fire, especially when it comes to historic architecture?


  6. In Texas a fire is a big deal, too. The local stations interupt whatever is on if there is a fire so they can broadcast it for all to see. Seriously, I am sick about the courthouse and hope for the best. Thank goodness the records were safe, I have a few in there!


  7. were any of the courthouse records saved?


  8. oh-sorry i missed the sentence answering my question–thanks.


  9. Actually it was electrical strips over loading old wiring not insurance



  2. Webster County Courthouse Update « Preservation in Mississippi
  3. Dark Days « Preservation in Mississippi

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