|Welcome to GeorgiaInfo | What's New | This Day in Georgia History | Instructional Handout Masters | Credits | Photos & Images | Georgia Trivia ||
Date Built: 1904
Architectural Style: Richardsonian Romanesque influence
Designer: Frank P. Milburn
Other Information: According to Jordan and Puster, Wilkes County's first courthouse was constructed in 1785 [see 1890 photo and postcard]. Remarkably, it served until the current building was completed in 1904. The new courthouse [see postcard] was built with arches over doors and windows, and an ornate clock tower. In 1958, the courthouse's roof and tower were destroyed by a fire. Subsequently, much of the damage was repaired -- though the courthouse no longer had its distinctive tower and roof [see 1986 photo]. In 1989, as part of an effort to restore the courthouse to its pre-1958 appearance, a new tower (although not as tall as the original) and roof were built. Also in 1989, a rear addition to the courthouse was constructed.
County Courthouse Historical Marker: Click here
County History: Wilkes County was established by Georgia's first state constitution -- the Constitution of 1777, which became effective Feb. 5, 1777. Because Wilkes is the first county in the list of eight counties created by Art. IV of that document, it is considered Georgia's first county. Unlike the other seven counties (which were fashioned from existing colonial parishes), Wilkes was created from the "ceded lands north of Ogechee" -- a reference to the land ceded in 1773 by the Creeks and Cherokees in their respective Treaties of Augusta (see map).
Wilkes County was named for British politician John Wilkes, who supported the cause of the American colonies' cause in the House of Commons.
Between 1790 and 1854, the legislature took land from Wilkes County to form Elbert County (1790), Oglethorpe County (1793), and Lincoln County (1796), and to help form Warren County (1793) and Taliaferro County (1825).
County Seat: An act of Feb. 26, 1784 designated the town of Washington as county seat of Wilkes County. In 1793, the legislature named commissioners with authority to choose a new site for the county courthouse -- but evidently they decided not to make a change. When the town was laid out in 1780, local officials named it Washington in honor of Gen. George Washington, hero of the American Revolution. Washington, reportedly the first city in America named for George Washington, was incorporated in 1805.
Size of County (Total Area): 474.0 square miles
County Rank in Total Area: 36th out of 159
Go to Georgia County Courthouses Contents page
|©2013 Digital Library of Georgia||UGA | GALILEO | Contact Us|