The circa 1941 (dates range from 1940-1942 depending on source) Neoclassical courthouse sitting in the middle of Hernando town square was designed by Mississippi’s R. W. Naef and built by Fred B. Johnson (Mississippi Department of Archives & History, Historic Resources Inventory database). According to the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places for the Hernando Courthouse Square District (J. Opager, H. L. Stamm, & D. Wise, 1997), the interior of the building “radiates from a central rotunda.” The murals of DeSoto’s exploration of the region, completed in 1903 by Newton Alonzo Wells for the Old Gayoso Hotel in Memphis, are located on the second floor balcony. The original part of the courthouse was constructed in 1940 in a T-shape, and the wings were added on the northwest and southwest corners in 1983 and 1985. The columns are sandstone.
…a 450 foot public square surrounded by 172 lots…plan still forms the center of Hernando, the county seat. (History of DeSoto County, DeSoto County Geneological Society, retrieved from desotocountyms.gov)
The new courthouse was built after the previous “French Castle Courthouse” burned in 1940. A room was designated in the new building for the library, which at that time, consisted of the leftover books from WPA days.
In 1946 Mrs. Amma Gray Horn, DeSoto County educator and philanthropist whose picture hangs in the Hernando Library, bequeathed her entire estate to the DeSoto County Library. The bequest gave impetus in 1950, to the formation of the First Regional Library of Mississippi, a system that has served as a model for other regional libraries since then. (History of DeSoto County)
Categories: Courthouses, Hernando, Historic Preservation