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Old Courthouse in Ellijay GA - Gilmer County Courthouse
Painting - Oil On Canvas
This is an image of my 24 x 18 original oil on gallery stretched canvas of the Old Gilmer County Courthouse in Ellijay, GA. The Dec. 1832 act creating Gilmer County provided that "the place where Ned Tucker recently lived" would serve as the county's initial courthouse and place for holding elections. The law also authorized an election of county officials in March 1833 and provided that the first justices of inferior court select the county seat of Gilmer County and provide for erection of a courthouse and other county buildings. That year, the inferior court chose Ellijay as county seat and had a wooden courthouse built here. In 1854, a new courthouse was built, which would serve the county for the next 80 years.
In 1898, the Hyatt Hotel was constructed facing the downtown square in Ellijay. The two-story brick building was converted for use as the Gilmer County courthouse in 1934, including the addition of a portico and four columns (see photo). In 1980, the courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Gilmer County's population grew rapidly during the 1980s and 1990s, and county government officials needed more space. A private brick home across the street from the courthouse was purchased and converted into a courthouse annex and home for the Gilmer County Commission.
In March 2003, the county fire marshal condemned the Gilmer County courthouse because of extensive code violations. The building was closed on March 27, forcing the county to find alternative facilities for courts and county officials who had been housed in the courthouse.
A debate followed on whether to enlarge and renovate the old courthouse. There were a number of local citizens and statewide groups (such as the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation) who campaigned to save the historic courthouse. Others, however, felt that problems with the condemned building were so extensive that it would be cost-prohibitive to try to restore it. Eventually, the county commission voted to demolish the old courthouse. However, state law requires the approval of county voters before any courthouse built before 1905 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places can be torn down. In November 2006, Gilmer County voters approved the removal of the old courthouse and bond financing of a new county government complex. Work began in two phases. In 2007, buildings and structures surrounding the old courthouse were torn down. In their place, construction began on a large, new courthouse of modern design. The historic courthouse was left standing until January 2008, when it was demolished. In recognition of the memory of the old courthouse, a new county government building of similar appearance was built in its place. The new building is connected to the courthouse complex, but from the city square it almost appears to be a restoration of the old courthouse.
March 14th, 2017
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