Courthouse SquareBlock Number: 34
On Thursday, May 20, 2010, “Courthouse Square,” block No. 34, was installed on the County Administration Building on East Court Street. This block was donated to McDowell County by McDowell Quilt Trail in appreciation for the use of the McDowell House as a work studio. After the installation, The Certificate of Authenticity was presented to Chuck Abernathy, County Manager, and Ashley Wooten, Deputy County Manager.
The McDowell County Commissioners chose the “Courthouse Square” design in honor of the remodeled 1902 courthouse. The four squares that make up the quilt block depict the courthouse spiraling in a clockwise direction, with each block being separated in a pinwheel configuration representing the stars and stripes. The interpretation of the stairs, the columns, the roof, with the belfry and spire are representative of the appearance of the courthouse in 1902.
While McDowell County was being formed in 1842, the Carson House was used as the temporary courthouse. Final documents for construction of a courthouse were signed in 1843. The Federal style building with its impressive Doric columns was completed in 1845. It survived the devastating fire that swept through the town on November 25, 1894, being damaged but not destroyed, according to Anne Swann, local historian.
The 1845 Courthouse was remodeled in 1902, with an addition to the back that changed the roof, added a belfry with spire, and outside stairs that accessed the door to the second story courtroom. This modification created an A-frame over the entry door on the first floor.
The present day courthouse was built in 1923 and a new wing was added in 1939-1940, which provided additional jail space, a jailer’s apartment, and county offices. The courthouse was renovated in 1975 adding the county administrative office portion of the building and was dedicated in 1976.
To see pictures of the courthouse in different periods, consult “Images of America: McDowell County North Carolina 1843-1943,” pages 28, 31, 33, and 46, written and compiled by James Lawton Haney and the McDowell County Historic Preservation Commission.