Circuit Court for the City of Fredericksburg, VA
Since its founding, as many as ten different courts sat at Fredericksburg. Until its incorporation as a town in 1782 the Fredericksburg Court House served as the courthouse for Spotsylvania County, of which Fredericksburg was then a part. Starting in 1782 the Fredericksburg Court House was the site of the Fredericksburg Hustings Court, which continued until 1879 when that Court was renamed the Corporation Court (coinciding with Fredericksburg's newly declared status as an independent city). Due to lack of space at the Spotsylvania Court House the Fredericksburg Court House was also home to the Spotsylvania District Court and the series of Superior Courts which preceded the creation of the Circuit Court.
History of Fredericksburg Courthouses
The first courthouse on the site of the current courthouse for the Circuit Court for the City of Fredericksburg was built between 1736 and 1740. The early courthouse was built of brick and modeled after an English town hall (similar to the Hanover County, Virginia, courthouse which still stands today). Among the attorneys to practice law in the original building were James Monroe, John Marshall and Bushrod Washington. The 1768 trial of the Baptist Dissenters may have been the most famous trial held in the old building. The present courthouse, designed by James Renwick in the French Gothic style, was completed in 1852, replacing the original building which was demolished. James Renwick later designed "The Castle" of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. The current courthouse has been renovated twice - once shortly after World War II and, to a lesser extent, in 1991/2.
The courthouse tower houses a six hundred pound bronze bell made at the Paul Revere Foundry in Boston, one of one hundred and thirty-four surviving Revere Foundry bells and the only known Revere bell in Virginia. The bell was donated to the Corporation of Fredericksburg in 1828 by Silas Wood, of New York, who married Miss Julia Ann Chew Brock of Fredericksburg in 1816.
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