Architectural Triplets: Marshall, Lafayette, and Hardeman County Courthouses

Hardeman County CourthouseMonths ago as I was driving through Bolivar, Tennessee for the first time, I passed the courthouse square.  Taken aback by the building, I exclaimed, “I think that courthouse was designed by the same architect as the one in Holly Springs!  They look like twins.”  Turns out, I was right.  The 1868 Italianate courthouse in Hardeman County was the first of three designed by Willis, Sloan, & Trigg that remain standing today (courthouselover, flickr.com; National Register of Historic Places website; courthouse information plaque).

Marshall County Courthouse 2The differences in the two buildings are minor, and both buildings had additional wings added in later years.  Hardeman County’s were added in the 1950s and Marshall County’s in 1926.  The Italianate Marshall County courthouse was constructed 1870-1872, and architect is identified as Fletcher Stone, who died in Bolivar, Tennessee, and the builder as Spires Boling (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database).  It was remodeled in 1926 by N. W. Overstreet who added Colonial Revival details, primarily, the rectangular fenestration (Jack A. Gold, 1979, National Register of Historic Places nomination form).  Gold described the courthouse:

…3-story H-plan brick structure with identical north and South facades consisting of a central recessed section with pedimented portico supporter by a rustic stone arcase.  …slender semicircular-arched windows and heavy bracketed roof cornice.

But, what about the triplets?  Mississippians will recognize another courthouse similar to the Marshall County design: Lafayette County has an Italianate courthouse, constructed in 1871, by Spires Boling, and conjectured to be designed by Fletcher Sloan (MDAH/HRI database).  The 1952 addition of the end bays was by Barton A. England, Jr.

Lafayette County CourthouseMichael W. Fazio (1977, National Register of Historic Places nomination form) described the Lafayette County courthouse:

…3-story stuccoed masonry structure…pedimented porticoes south and north with Corinthian columns raised on arcades scored in imitation of ashlar masonry…either side of porticoes are dividided by pilasters…to support a bracketed wooden cornice…segmented arched windows at ground level…change to semicircular arched at the upper level…square, tin-domed cupola with clock faces.

While both Marshall County and Lafayette County courthouses have identical main entrances, the Hardeman County rear entrance is not as ornate as the front, is minus the portico cover, and does not have the arched arcade.  Images from various points in time of the Hardeman County courthouse can be viewed at the link.



Categories: Courthouses, Holly Springs, Oxford

6 replies

  1. Did Lafayette County Courthouse’s clock EVER get fixed?

    Like

  2. How amazing that they are so similar! The comparison pictures are intriguing! I remember visiting Oxford as a young girl and that the “old” men would congregate in front of the court house every day. If you wanted to know anything that was going on in town that was the place to go (if you were a man, of course).

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