“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Urbanna in Middlesex County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)

Old Middlesex County Courthouse

Old Middlesex County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, January 16, 2010
1. Old Middlesex County Courthouse Marker
Inscription.  This building served as the Middlesex County courthouse from 1748 to 1852. Although much altered from its original appearance, it is one of Virginia’s rare colonial courthouse buildings. During the American Revolution, the local Committee of Safety met here. According to tradition during the Civil War, it briefly housed Confederate troops. After use as the county courthouse, the building was remodeled and became a house of worship for several denominations. In 1948 Christ Church parish transferred ownership to the Middlesex County Woman’s Club, which once operated a community library here. The structure was listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.
Erected 2004 by Department of Historic Resources. (Marker Number OC-41.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Churches & ReligionColonial EraNotable Places. In addition, it is included in the Virginia Department of Historic Resources series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1748.
Location. 37° 38.183′ 
Old Middlesex County Courthouse and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, January 16, 2010
2. Old Middlesex County Courthouse and Marker
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N, 76° 34.517′ W. Marker is in Urbanna, Virginia, in Middlesex County. Marker is on Old Virginia Street (County Route 602) west of Cross Street (Virginia Route 227), on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 201 Old Virginia St, Urbanna VA 23175, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Virginia Street (a few steps from this marker); Urbanna, Virginia (within shouting distance of this marker); Colonial Courthouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Coca-Cola Bottling Plant (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Landsdowne (about 400 feet away); Urbanna Museum & Visitors Center (about 400 feet away); Sandwich (about 400 feet away); Prince George Street and Old Tavern (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Urbanna.
Regarding Old Middlesex County Courthouse. The Trinity Lutheran Church holds Sunday services here at 9 a.m.
Also see . . .  National Register of Historic Places 1976 Nomination Form. Statement of Significance. “The Old Middlesex County Courthouse survives as one of Virginia’s eleven Colonial courthouses, one of an outstanding collection of pre-Revolutionary civic architecture unmatched in quantity by any other state. Although the building has been much changed during its two centuries of existence, and only its patched walls are original, it remains the principal historical focal point of the old seaport village of Urbanna. Many important aspects of county
Old Middlesex County Courthouse image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, January 16, 2010
3. Old Middlesex County Courthouse
and state history are reflected in the various uses to which the building has been put.

“Middlesex County, located in the heart of Virginia’s Tidewater region, between the Rappahannock and Piankatank Rivers, was formed from Lancaster County about 1669. The court originally met at what is now the settlement of Stormont, but in 1685 it was ordered that a courthouse be erected in the newly established village of Urbanna, the port of entry for the county. However, because there was no bridge or ferry across the adjacent creek, residents of the lower part of the county complained that the proposed location would be an inconvenient one. The matter was not resolved for some sixty years until a ferry could be established, and even then there were complaints about the tolls.

“Construction of the courthouse was finally begun in 1745. The order for building the courthouse was probably recorded the previous year, but unfortunately, the order books covering that year have been lost. Official approval for the new building and its location was granted somewhat belatedly (probably after the building was finished) by the Governor’s Council on April 24, 1746. An entry in the Executive Journal for that day records: “It is ordered that the Courthouse of the County aforesaid be removed to Urbanna according to the Prayer of the said Petition.”
Old Middlesex County Courthouse Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, January 16, 2010
4. Old Middlesex County Courthouse Marker
The county, by January 1745, had already made payment to one John Rodes, Jr., for his care of the courthouse.

“The routine business of the county was conducted in the courthouse for the next hundred years. Major events taking place there include a 1771 trial of six Baptist ministers for preaching without a license. The four who were convicted continued to preach from their jail windows for the forty-six days of their imprisonment. On the eve of the Revolution, in 1774, freeholders met at the courthouse and issued resolutions against taxation without representation. During the war itself the local Committee of Safety met in the building to try members of the local gentry for suspected loyalty to the Crown.

“Even after Urbanna had served the county for nearly a century there were those who felt the courthouse should be located elsewhere. Finally, in 1847, the Middlesex justices voted against funding further repairs to the building and decided to move the county seat to the more accessible settlement of Saluda. A new courthouse was completed in 1852: and the old courthouse was sold a t auction that same year to Captain John Bailey for $600.00. Bailey had the building renovated into an interdenominational chapel, restyling its architecture in the Gothic taste.

“During the War between the States, the building was used for a time as
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barracks for Confederate troops. It was shelled by Union gunboats, but little damage resulted. After the war it continued as a union chapel until 1896 when it was sold. It changed hands several times until 1907 when it was acquired by Christ Church Parish of Middlesex. Dedicated as an Episcopal chapel known as Epiphany in 1920, it served in that capacity until 1948 when improved travel conditions made the chapel no longer necessary. It was in that year that the building was deconsecrated and deeded to the Middlesex County Woman’s Club. It remains the club’s headquarters and serves as the scene of various community and private functions.” (Submitted on January 30, 2010.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on January 30, 2010, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 1,002 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on January 30, 2010, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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Feb. 9, 2023