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Date Built: 1857
Architectural Style: Vernacular with Italianate elements and Victorian clock tower
Designer: Unknown (perhaps D.B. Plump)
Other Information: According to Jordan and Puster, Burke County's first courthouse was a log cabin constructed in 1773 -- four years before the county's creation. In 1777, a new wooden courthouse was built, but it burned in 1825. A third courthouse was built in 1856, but it was destroyed that year in a fire. The present courthouse was built in 1857. It was expanded 1899-1900, with L.F. Goodrich as architect [see postcard]. In 1940, a Neoclassical Revival annex was completed at the rear of the courthouse. Since then, the courthouse has been completely renovated. Reportedly, it is one of the oldest brick buildings still in use in Georgia.
County Courthouse Historical Marker: Click here
County History: The land that would form Burke County was ceded to the English by the Creeks in the Treaty of Savannah on May 21, 1733, confirmed and expanded by agreements of 1735 and 1736. By an act of March 15, 1758, the colonial legislature created seven parishes. With the outbreak of the American Revolution, Whig forces took control of government in Georgia. On Feb. 5, 1777, they adopted the state's first constitution -- the Constitution of 1777. Art. IV of that document transformed the existing colonial parishes into seven counties, with Indian ceded lands forming an eighth county. Burke County, which was third on the list and thus is considered Georgia's third county, consisted of Saint George parish (see map). The county was named for Edmund Burke, a member of the British Parliament who championed the rights of the American colonies.
Between 1793 and 1905, the legislature took land from Burke County to help form the new counties of Screven (1793), Jefferson (1796), and Jenkins (1905), and to add area to Richmond County (1841).
County Seat: On Feb. 26, 1784, the legislature designated Waynesborough as county seat of Burke County. The date of its initial settlement is not certain, but the town was named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Gen. "Mad" Anthony Wayne. Waynesboro, as the town's name was shortened to, was incorporated by the General Assembly in 1812.
Size of County (Total Area): 835.1 square miles
County Rank in Total Area: 2nd out of 159
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