Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
The Court House
Architect James Renwick, who designed the Smithsonian Castle, also designed the Fredericksburg Court House, which was built in 1852. It is the only Gothic Revival court house in Virginia. Within the cupola is a bell from the Revere Foundry in Boston, presented to the town by Silas Wood, in 1828. Wood had married Julia Anne Chew Brock, of Fredericksburg, and explained his gift an exchange of a bell for a belle.
During the Civil War, the cupola provided a point of observation during two battles (December 13, 1862 and May 3, 1863). After the war, the occupying Union army administered the U.S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau) and used the court building to hear cases brought by former slaves. The building also housed the town's fire-fighting equipment until the early twentieth century and remained in active use as a court until 2014.
New York architect James Renwick designed the Smithsonian Castle, which had a major influence on the Gothic Revival style in the United States and is clearly reflected in the Fredericksburg Court House.
Although the cupola roof has been modified and the step gables removed, this Civil War sketch shows that the Court House exterior has otherwise changed very little.
In the 1880s, a photographer hauled his equipment into the steeple of St. George's Church and exposed a series of images of Fredericksburg. This view is the vista seen in the Civil War sketch from the court house.
This Civil War sketch is the scene that observers saw from the court house cupola. The depicted houses still line Hanover Street, which is a block in front of you. Union General Darius N. Couch write: "I climbed the steeple of the court house and from above the haze and smoke got a clear view of the field. . . I had never before seen fighting like that, nothing approaching it in terrible uproar and destruction."
Erected by Fredericksburg Economic Development and Tourism Office.
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArchitecture • Government & Politics • War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the Virginia, Fredericksburg: Timeless. series lists. A significant historical date for this entry is May 3, 1852.
Location. 38° 18.133′ N, 77° 27.59′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker is at the intersection of Princess Anne Street (Business U.S. 17) and George Street, on the left when traveling south on Princess Anne Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 817 Princess Anne St, Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A Vast Hospital (here, next to this marker); A Sacked and Gutted Town (here, next to this marker); War Comes to Fredericksburg (here, next to this marker); Gen. Stonewall Jackson (a few steps from this marker); 1910 (a few steps from this marker); In Memory of Clara Barton (within shouting distance of this marker); Corporation Court House (within shouting distance of this marker); National Bank of Fredericksburg (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
Related marker.another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has replaced the linked marker.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 29, 2021. It was originally submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. This page has been viewed 204 times since then and 100 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on April 12, 2020, by Devry Becker Jones of Washington, District of Columbia. 3. submitted on February 14, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia. 4. submitted on November 26, 2021, by Bradley Owen of Morgantown, West Virginia.