Prince William County Courthouse

Old Prince William County Courthouse, Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia

Old Prince William County Courthouse, Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia

 –  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

Prince William County Courthouse

The courthouse for Prince William County in Northern Virginia had been located in Brentsville, a few miles south of Manassas, since 1820. Moves began in 1872 to relocate the county seat to Manassas. This first attempt, and a second in 1888, both failed. However, in August 1892 a majority of the citizens of the county at last voted for their county seat to be situated in Manassas.

The choice for the new Prince William County Courthouse in Manassas was between one of a colonial revival design or of a victorian romanesque, with the latter winning out. This symmetrical design was built of local brownstone and brick on a stone foundation. It has a prominent central tower into which is recessed the entrance behind a heavy rusticated, archway. The new courthouse opened for business on January 1, 1894.

Old Prince William County Courthouse, Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia

Old Prince William County Courthouse, Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia

 –  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

By 1961 public tastes had changed sufficiently for the courthouse to be described as an “uninspired style of architecture characteristic of the 1890’s.” In the 1980s the residents of Prince William County again decided to move their courts and county government. This time though it was away from the commercial center which had grown up around the railroad junction to a place with no name and very little history near the geographical center of the county. The selection of the new site was dictated by the needs of a society which was dependent on the automobile and its need for abundant free parking. The site was designed to serve the needs of the population, which was essentially the same underlying criteria used for the choice of Manassas in 1982.

In 1911, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the first battle of Manassas, over 1000 veterans from both sides of the conflict returned to Prince William County for a Great Peace Rally. On July 21, after a reenactment of the battle, the reunion concluded with a ceremony at the courthouse. Both President William Howard Taft and Virginia Governor William H. Mann addressed a large audience on the courthouse grounds. Four years later the bronze tablet seen in the foreground of the image below was dedicated as a permanent record of the event.

Old Prince William County Courthouse, Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia

Old Prince William County Courthouse, Lee Avenue, Manassas, Virginia

 –  Click on the image to enlarge or purchase  –

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
Prince William County Courthouse
Article Name
Prince William County Courthouse
Description
Prince William County Courthouse had been located in Brentsville since 1820. In 1892 the citizens of the county voted to move their county seat to Manassas.
Author
Publisher Name
Mark Summerfield
Publisher Logo

1 Comment

  1. That’s a different looking courthouse compared to what I am used to up here, very cool looking

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