GPS Coordinates of Courthouse Main Entrance: 31.17940, 83.78851
Date Built: 1902
Architectural Style: Neoclassical Revival
Designer: Andrew J. Bryan & Co.
At the time of Colquitt County's creation on February 25, 1856, there were no incorporated towns in the new county. Initially, superior court sessions were held in a large one-story wooden house built by George Tucker on Land Lot 196 in the Eighth Land District (see photo). Known as "Mim's House," the temporary courthouse was located four miles northwest of the small settlement of Ochlockoney. Shortly afterwards, the justices of the new inferior court desginated Ochlockoney as county seat. At some point between 1856 and 1859, the court authorized construction of a "sizeable log building" to serve as Colquitt County's first real courthouse. In 1859, the General Assembly incorporated the settlement at Ochlockoney and named it Moultrie. The legislation designated that the new city consist of the fifty acres surrounding the courthouse. Unfortunately, the log courthouse burned in the spring of 1881, with all land deeds and other county records destroyed. Thereafter, litigation continued for years over land ownership and boundaries in Colquitt County.
According to a local newspaper account, "Shortly after the fire a one-story, box-like building was erected of unfinished timbers, with the boards running up and down-and covered with strips of lumber to keep out the cold and wind." After a few years, the building was sold to local Methodists for use as a church. The building was removed and in its place a new two-story wooden courthouse constructed. Rectangular in shape, a wing was later added, creating an "L" shaped structure.
During the 1890s, Colquitt County's population almost tripled due to the rapid growth of timber and naval stores industries. By 1898, county officials were calling for a larger courthouse. They were also fearful of another courthouse fire. So, in 1901, officials decided to build a larger and safer structure. The courthouse was dismantled and sold to a local resident.
Bids for construction of new two-story brick courthous were opened on April 6, 1901, and the project was awarded to J.H. Harris for his bid of $19,250. Construction of the new courthouse was completed in August 1902, with county officials moving in on September 1.
In 1938, the federal Work Project Administration proposed modernizing the 1902 courthouse, including adding four more stories (with the top floor to serve as the jail). The WPA would pay 45 percent of the cost, with Colquitt County responsible for the remainder. County commissioners were tempted to accept the offer, but in the end declined because the county was alredy in debt because of the Depression. As a result, the Work Project Administration undertook a less ambitious courthouse restoration in 1940.
In 1952, county officials had the courthouse's tan brick exterior painted white. Four years later, in conjunction with Colquitt County's centennial, county commissioners authorized a complete remodeling and modernization of the courthouse in 1956-57 at a cost of $285,000. Using convict labor, the interior of the building was stripped to the first floor, and a new second and third floor created--with 12-foot ceilings instead of the former height of 20 feet. The original windows were bricked up, and new smaller windows installed for each floor. Also, some of the distinctive architectural features of the 1902 building were removed.
In 1994, residents of Colquitt County approved a one cent local option sales tax to renovate the courthouse. In 1998, a major rehabilitation of the courthouse was begun. Completed in March 2001, the $1,889,000 project replaced many of the features of the 1902 courthouse removed in the 1950s – though not restoring the interior to two main floors. Unfortunately, some of the wood used in the 1998-2001 rehabilitation soon began to rot, requiring further rehabilitation in 2005.
And a very nice eternal flame memorial to the fallen....