Historic Courthouse

Henderson County Historic Courthouse


1841-1842 (circa) – First permanent courthouse built for $8,000 at Aspen and Chestnut Streets, which later became First and Second Avenues, next to the site of the present courthouse.

1904 – Contract for new courthouse awarded to local builder W.F. Edwards; first courthouse torn down. Richard Sharp Smith, an architect from Asheville, drew the design for the new courthouse.

July 1905 – Edwards hands over keys for new courthouse to Henderson County Commissioners. Courthouse sits on west side of Main Street between First and Second Avenues. It cost $38,000, but the county withheld $500 until the first cold day to test the heating system.

1915 – St. John Hotel on Main Street burns down, scorching courthouse woodwork and dome. Edwards repairs the damage.



July 1925 – Brick jail built behind the courthouse near Church Street for $75,000.

1943 – Courthouse condemned; Superior Court moves to City Hall. Repairs estimated at $25,000. Repairs completed in 1944 and court returns.

1952 – Courthouse expanded.

1956 – Commissioners approve courthouse addition for Register of Deeds, Sheriff’s Office and Board of Elections

1972 – State court system reorganized and addition to courthouse needed at a cost of $40,000. County commissioners move out.

1982 – Repairs to shore up floors and inner supports completed.

November 1991 – A reinforced dome with a gold-colored fiberglass coating is dedicated.

1994 – Sheriff’s office moves out of the courthouse.

1995 – New courthouse built for $7.6 million; old courthouse closed.

1999 – Henderson County Commissioners appoint a committee to look at reusing the courthouse. The committee suggested four options, including adding a parking garage and demolishing the old jail, which would be replaced with a new one in 2001. The cost was estimated at $7.5 million.

2001 – Commissioners vote to move forward with renovations of the courthouse and demolition of the jail, but loss of state money and other budget shortfalls scuttled the plans by 2002.

2003 – Commissioners appoint a 21-member committee to recommend a use for the historic structure and how to pay for its renovation.

2003-04 – County Commissioners vote to make use of Historic Courthouse as a working government building and heritage museum.

2005 – Centennial celebration of Historic Courthouse. The renovated Henderson County Historic Courthouse houses county offices, including commissioners’ offices and meeting rooms, and the Henderson County Heritage Museum.

“Heritage is maintained and vitalized by a recall of its various components to the mind and eye of the citizenry. The process must necessarily be unflagging and must take many shapes, forms, and media.” (Francis Coiner)