At the time of Colquitt County's creation on February 25, 1856, there were no incorporated towns in the new county. Initially, superior court sessions were held in a large one-story wooden house built by George Tucker on Land Lot 196 in the Eighth Land District (see photo). Known as "Mim's House," the temporary courthouse was located four miles northwest of the small settlement of Ochlockoney. Shortly afterwards, the justices of the new inferior court desginated Ochlockoney as county seat. At some point between 1856 and 1859, the court authorized construction of a "sizeable log building" to serve as Colquitt County's first real courthouse. In 1859, the General Assembly incorporated the settlement at Ochlockoney and named it Moultrie. The legislation designated that the new city consist of the fifty acres surrounding the courthouse. Unfortunately, the log courthouse burned in the spring of 1881, with all land deeds and other county records destroyed. Thereafter, litigation continued for years over land ownership and boundaries in Colquitt County.
According to a local newspaper account, "Shortly after the fire a one-story, box-like building was erected of unfinished timbers, with the boards running up and down-and covered with strips of lumber to keep out the cold and wind." After a few years, the building was sold to local Methodists for use as a church. The building was removed and in its place a new two-story wooden courthouse constructed (see photo). Rectangular in shape, a wing was later added, creating an "L" shaped structure.
During the 1890s, Colquitt County's population almost tripled due to the rapid growth of timber and naval stores industries. By 1898, county officials were calling for a larger courthouse. They were also fearful of another courthouse fire. So, in 1901, officials decided to build a larger and safer structure. The courthouse was dismantled and sold to a local resident.
Bids for construction of new two-story brick courthous were opened on April 6, 1901, and the project was awarded to J.H. Harris for his bid of $19,250. (see
early photo). Construction of the new courthouse was completed in August 1902, with county officials moving in on September 1.
In 1938, the federal Work Project Administration proposed modernizing the 1902 courthouse, including adding four more stories (with the top floor to serve as the jail). The WPA would pay 45 percent of the cost, with Colquitt County responsible for the remainder. County commissioners were tempted to accept the offer, but in the end declined because the county was alredy in debt because of the Depression. As a result, the Work Project Administration undertook a less ambitious courthouse restoration in 1940.
In 1952, county officials had the courthouse's tan brick exterior painted white (see photo). Four years later, in conjunction with Colquitee County's centennial, county commissioners authorized a complete remodeling and modernization of the courthouse in 1956-57 at a cost
of $285,000. Using convict labor, the interior of the building was stripped to the
first floor, and a new second and third floor created--with
12-foot ceilings instead of the former height of 20 feet. The
original windows were bricked up, and new smaller windows installed
for each floor. Also, some of the distinctive architectural features
of the 1902 building were removed.
In 1994, residents of Colquitt County approved a one cent local option sales tax to renovate the courthouse. In 1998, a major rehabilitation
of the courthouse was begun. Completed in March 2001, the $1,889,000
project replaced many of the features of the 1902 courthouse
removed in the 1950s – though not restoring the interior to two
main floors. Unfortunately, some of the wood used in the 1998-2001
rehabilitation soon began to rot, requiring further rehabilitation
In 2001, county officials authorized construction of
a new two-story courthouse annex, with work completed in 2003 (see photo).
County Courthouse Historical
County History: Colquitt
County was created on Feb. 25, 1856 by an act of the General
Assembly (Ga. Laws 1855-56, p. 108). Created from Lowndes and
Thomas counties, Colquitt's original boundaries were designated
SECTION I. Be it enacted, &c., That from and after the
first day of April next a new county shall be laid out and organized
from the counties of Thomas and Lowndes, including the eighth
district of originally Irwin now Thomas county and all that portion
of the ninth district of originally Irwin now Lowndes lying west
of Little river to where the river crosses the dividing line,
between Lots of Land Nos. 443 and 444, in the 9th district, thence
south to the district line between the 9th and 12th districts.
Georgia's 115th county was named for U.S. Sen. Walter
T. Colquitt (1799-1855), who died the previous year.
The act creating Colquitt County authorized the justices of the
county's first inferior court to select a site for the county
seat, purchase the land, lay it off into town lots, sell the
lots, and use the proceeds to construct a courthouse and other
public buildings. Initial court sessions were held in the Mims
House, located four miles northwest of the small settlement of Ochlockoney (present-day Moultrie).
Shortly afterwards, the inferior court selected Ochlockoney, located on the Ochlockonee River
in the center of the new county, as county seat. On Dec. 13, 1859, the
General Assembly incorporated Ochlockonee and renamed it Moultrie (Ga. Laws 1859, p. 187). The name change was to honor Gen. William Moultrie (1730)-1805), a hero of the American Revolution who later served
two terms as governor of South Carolina.
Size of County (Total
Area): 556.6 square miles
County Rank in Total
Area: 19th out of 159
City of Moultrie