Bedford County Courthouse

Bedford County Courthouse, Bedford, Virginia

Bedford County Courthouse, Bedford, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Bedford County Courthouse

As with many Virginia county courthouses built in the early part of the nineteenth century, by the beginning of the twentieth century Bedford County had outgrown its existing building. By 1914 the residents of Bedford County had began to talk about a replacement. The situation only got worse as the years progressed. By 1916 there was no room left in the current courthouse for the treasurer, commissioner of revenue, commonwealth’s attorney, superintendent of schools or even the sheriff. When the court was in session the board of supervisors was forced to move to a small cramped room in the courthouse.

The board of supervisors first considered renovations to the existing courthouse. After visiting other county seats it was determined that a new structure was required. A “Courthouse Fund” was established. It did not take very long to accumulate enough money in the fund but this had to be diverted for a more pressing purpose to operate and maintain the County’s schools. After this, any surplus funds from other county budgets were transferred to the Courthouse Fund. By 1929 the county had at last raised enough money to appoint an architect and begin construction of the new Courthouse.

Throughout the first three decades of the twentieth century Virginia County Courthouses had nearly all been of a Colonial Revival design. This trend actually spread nationwide. Virginians found this particularly appealing as it honored the past whilst providing a symbol of stability, then viewed as a primary political and social virtue.

Bedford County Courthouse, Bedford, Virginia

Bedford County Courthouse, Bedford, Virginia

– Click on the image to enlarge or purchase –

Bedford County Courthouse is based on the standard Colonial Revival design for its core but extends out beyond the usual courthouse structures of the previous thirty years. It has the Roman Ionic portico typical of the Colonial Revival style courthouse. However, the additional recessed wings make the overall structure Palladian. These additions signified a major change for a predominantly rural county, especially one on the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Firstly, the cost and size were impressive. It was clearly designed to be much more that just a courthouse. In fact is was more an office block like a city hall. Even the local unit of the Virginia National Guard, Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment (the regiment with the severest D-Day losses and reason the National D-Day Memorial is located in Bedford), was assigned space in the basement to use as an armory. The total cost of $212,000 was over four times that of any other Virginia county courthouse built since the turn of the century.

The information for this post comes from a second-hand book I was lucky to find on Amazon recently – Virginia’s Historic Courthouses by John O. and Margaret T. Peters. This book was first published in 1995 by the University Press of Virginia. It talks about 110 courthouses in Virginia’s counties and independent cities.

Summary
Bedford County Courthouse
Article Name
Bedford County Courthouse
Description
Bedford County Courthouse is based on the Colonial Revival design for its core but extends out beyond the usual courthouse of the previous thirty years.
Author
Publisher Name
Mark Summerfield
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