Cherokee County NC

Cherokee County Courthouse


Cherokee County Courthouse – Photo from “Marble & Log – The History & Architecture of Cherokee County, North Carolina” produced by Cherokee County Historical Museum Council 1984

“The best reflection of the public spirit of optimism of the 1890’s was the courthouse built during that decade. The new courthouse was built in 1891 on a larger site, a block from the town square. In 1895, the structure burned, but the brick walls were left intact, and the courthouse was reconstructed the following year in the same form. While the previous courthouses had been grand compared to their surroundings, the courthouse built in the 1890’s was unlike anything that had been seen in Cherokee County. The large Asymmetrical Romanesque style brick courthouse featured two front towers, the larger containing a belfry and enormous clock.”

Balloon Ascension at Cherokee County Courthouse – Photo from “Marble & Log –
The History & Architecture of Cherokee County, North Carolina” produced by
Cherokee County Historical Museum Council 1984


Old postcard of Cherokee County Courthouse

“For those who saw their town change rapidly with the coming of the railroad and the introduction of the automobile, it must have seemed that growth would continue indefinitely. When the grand Romanesque courthouse built in the 1890’s burned to the ground, plans were made for an even grander design. The courthouse designed by James J. Baldwin was a sophisticated, neo-classical structure with a monumental cupola. It was constructed in 1926-1927 on the site of the previous courthouse, although the entrance is turned 45 degrees toward the square. The courthouse was built of rich, and local material. The whole building is faced in Regal blue marble quarried from the deposit located along the Valley River, between Murphy and Andrews. It was the first use of this marble other than for monuments and for decoration.”

— Excerpts from”Marble & Log – The History & Architecture of Cherokee County, North Carolina” produced by Cherokee County Historical Museum Council 1984


Recently the courthouse has been on all our minds.

The cupola was in disrepair and had to be taken down about two years ago. The Cherokee County Maintenance Department along with a local Coppersmith figured out how to save the historic piece.

Last weekend they were able to place the cupola back where it belonged. Drop back by one day next week I’ll tell you more about the project.

I remember reading bricks from the last courthouse fire were used in the construction of John C. Campbell Folk School’s original buildings. At least I think I read that 🙂 Hopefully someone will chime in and tell me if it’s true or not.


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  • Reply
    Don Byers
    May 3, 2019 at 8:36 pm

    Ours has been restored in Blairsville and is The Union County Historical Society Museum. I love the one Murphy as well as the Swain County Courthouse in Bryson City. I was born just up the street from the courthouse in Murphy in the little marble building. Was Dr. Whitfield’s hospital.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    So neat to learn about the history of the courthouses in your place…….and joy with all of you seeing the copula restored and put back in it’s place….. so commendable for all your talented willing hearted folks who did give of themselves and their time, and got the job done, saving cost to their county , that’s something to be so thankful for…. 🙂

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    May 3, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    I’m glad that the Deer Hunter and his friends are going to fix the Murphy Courthouse, he knows a lot about everything. He musta got that from his parents. Like my Daddy, he could fix anything.

    Daddy was a Rock Mason, but he had the knowhow to fix anything, including electrical. One summer, he had me to help him do Rock work for some Rich folks from Indiana. I never read any of his books, but he was a Writer. And the Misses ask me if I knew what Misseltow was. I had shot that stuff out many times before, and when it got near Christmas, I brought them a pokefull. She paid $2.00 and I thought I was Rich. She told all her friends and they bought some too. All this,
    and for going to work with Daddy. …Ken

  • Reply
    May 3, 2019 at 10:31 am

    What an amazing picture of the court house. Beautiful! I would love to go into it and look around. Thanks Tipper.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 3, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Interesting that the excerpt fails to mention that the blue marble used in the construction came from the town of Marble just a few miles east. The marble sidewalks of Marble are also an interesting study. They were considered extravagant at the time but were probably scrap from the marble quarries in the area. Sadly they are all gone!

    • Reply
      Cindy Hohmann
      May 5, 2019 at 8:33 am

      Yes I found it interesting that the town of marble didn’t even get mentioned I grew up in marble.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2019 at 8:43 am

    Our old courthouse is so pretty, though much smaller than Cherokee county; the replacement looks like it was designed by the Soviet Union.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 3, 2019 at 8:40 am

    This story goes along with your post about sense of place. The use of local materials and local talent places the courthouse firmly in its setting, not a one style fits all kind of thing, thank goodness.

    When I travel around I want to know about local history and really connect with local folks. Just to visit and be a spectator leaves me disappointed.

    Hope you learn some really intriguing history about the JCC buildings. You will be learning about your own heritage at the same time.

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    May 3, 2019 at 8:08 am

    This courthouse is beautiful I am so pleased they are restoring and maintaining it

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 3, 2019 at 7:58 am

    Thanks to our County Commissioners for getting the cupola restored and back up while saving the county lots of money. We have lots of talented folks in our area who donated their time to get the job done. Thanks to all of them. A lot of our history is going to be gone because of the cost of repair. Thanks for keeping this historical building in such good repair.

  • Reply
    Vann Helms
    May 3, 2019 at 7:37 am

    Often we take these masterpieces for granted, and it takes the threat of destruction to bring the necessary attention to their beauty. Thank you for preserving this piece of history in your blog.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 3, 2019 at 6:32 am

    When I moved to Murphy I was very impressed with the lovely courthouse. It’s an imposing structure for this little town. I look forward to all the details of the new cupola, it’s construction and return to the top of the courthouse. I was there with a front row seat to see newly cupola returned to it’s home.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2019 at 6:28 am

    Old Courthouses are neat to look at, I’m glad they’re able to do the repairs, our Old Court House was abandoned and the new one built kinda down and across the street, and it’s more modern looking, not near eye-catching as the old one, but it’s easier to maintain I’m sure, it’s mostly Brick with metal trim.

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