The Original Wilkes County Courthouse
In 1777 Wilkes county was created from Surry and Burke Counties. Its first courthouse was built of
logs at Mulberry Fields, (now Wilkesboro), the county seat. The county court ordered the building
from its site in 1830 and it was used as a stable until 1900. The second courthouse was constructed
on the old site and it served until it was replaced by the present one in 1902.
In that year a committee appointed by the county commissioners visited Laurinburg and Statesville,
and after examining the courthouses there, which were designed by Wheeler and Runge of Charlotte,
"We think this courthouse is point of size, convenient and price decidedly best suited to our ability
and wants... we are reliably informed [that it is] the best and most convenient cheap courthouse in the
The committee recommended that the contractors, L.W. Cooper and Company of Charlotte, who had
also built the courthouses at Statesville and Laurinburg, be appointed to construct the new building. The
commissioners adopted the committee's recommendations and authorized L.W. Cooper and Company
to construct the new building at a cost of approximately $47,000. The county accepted that new courthouse
in January 1903.
The east and west wings were added in the late 1950's. The entire building was then painted white because
the bricks of the wings did not match the bricks of the main building. This is how the building stands today.
The Wilkes County Courthouse is a landmark in Wilkesboro and dominates the surrounding offices and
commercial building. Set on a manicured square bordered by graceful flowering trees, the courthouse is
listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Built in 1902, the courthouse is one of six (1980) surviving
Beauz-Arts Neo-Classical Revival buildings designed at the turn of the century by Wheeler and Runge of Charlotte.
Crowned by a distinctive Second Empire Cupola, Wheeler's design was especially popular in Western North Carolina.
The First Court
(Documented by a speech given by J. Gordon Hackett and Copy on file at Old Wilkes, Inc.)
The first court for Wilkes County was held at John Brown's house located at the bend of the Yadkin River
on the second day of March 1778. Taking oath of allegiance to the state and also the oath of justice of the
peace, viz: Benjamin Cleveland, Benjamin Herndon, Elijah Isaacs, William Lenoir, Charles Gordon, John
Brown, John Parks, Jr., Joseph Herndon, James Fletcher, John Green, William Lewis, Thomas Elledge,
George Norris, and William Colvard. Richard Allen was chosen sheriff of the said county, and a county
clerk for which William Lenoir was duly chosen to serve as clerk.