History of Polk County Courthouse, oldest in Western North Carolina

Published 4:17 pm Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Often people ask why not restore the courthouse to 1859?&bsp; There are several reasons for choosing the later date. Originally the courtroom was located on the first floor. If the restoration went back to the 1850s, the courtroom would have to be returned to the first floor.

&ull; The courthouse was thought to be built in the Greek Revival Style, but research by the Carter-Watkins architectural firm has found that the antebellum courthouse is actually early Italianate with some Greek Revival features. True Greek Revival plans were not in the shape of a T, as this courthouse is. They did not have recessed porticos or cupolas. Windows in a true Greek Revival style would have been paired and there would not have been pilasters, both of which are present on this courthouse.

&ull; Polk County was one of the first counties, if not the first county in Western North Carolina, to have women seated on a jury. On Tuesday, February 1, 1944 Judge J. Will Pless ordered that the women present be called.

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According to an article in the Tryon Daily Bulletin, &dquo;They gave out of men in trying to get an acceptable jury Tuesday afternoon at the Polk County Superior Court. All available men in the courtroom had been objected to by counsel for the defense, so Judge J. Will Pless ordered that the women present be called. Sheriff W. D. Hines looked over the courtroom.&bsp; There was a craning of necks and whisperings. Women serving on the jury! This had never happened in Polk County! There was a pause. The names of four women were called.&bsp; Two of them were rejected. To Mrs. Arthur Thompson, Pea Ridge correspondent for the Polk County News, goes the honor of being the first woman accepted for jury duty in Polk County, and next to her on the same jury was Mrs.Willie Spurlin of&bsp; Columbus.

&ull; The brick for the courthouse was made nearby, probably along the stream that runs behind the Food Lion.&bsp; Residents from all over the surrounding area came to watch the operation of the kilns. &bsp;

A technique called pencilling was used to make the uneven bricks look straighter.