Jefferson County Courthouse Bessemer Division
The Jefferson County Courthouse Bessemer Division is the secondary location for the Jefferson County Courthouse, serving western Jefferson County, the so-called "Bessemer cutoff", from a separate courthouse in the city of Bessemer. The building associated with that name was the predecessor to the current Jefferson County Bessemer Justice Center.
Justice of the Peace court had been held in Bessemer since its establishment in 1887. A Jefferson County Circuit Court was authorized there in 1893 with a Birmingham judge presiding. Court proceedings were held in Rebie Hall until its destruction by fire in 1913. In 1914 state representative W. S. Welch sponsored legislation establishing a new branch of the 10th Judicial Circuit of Alabama with its own judge "in residence". Court was held at the Bessemer City Hall while plans for a new courthouse got underway.
Delayed by World War I, the $175,000 courthouse was not completed until 1920. At the time, some proposed splitting Jefferson County into two separate counties with Bessemer as the seat of a new Jeff Davis County. That proposal never gained popular support and was abandoned.
A 7-story Annex was completed in 1980 with four floors of enclosed parking. The original courthouse was renovated in 1990 with the abatement of hazardous materials and upgrading of finishes and fixtures. Another renovation in 2009 prepared the building for new county office functions after the construction of the new Justice Center.
In 2013 Jefferson County and Bessemer officials announced plans to construct a public exhibit in the fourth-floor jail to commemorate King's 1967 incarceration.
In 2020 the Alabama State Supreme Court ruled in a suit brought by Jefferson County District Attorney candidate Bill Veitch that the 1953 law preventing Bessemer cutoff residents from participating in primary elections for the countywide office was invalid.
- "Dedication Ceremony Held: Bessemer Courthouse Gets Addition" (November 1980) Court News
- Wright, Barnett (September 4, 2013) "Jeffco officials plan to turn old Bessemer jail into museum honoring MLK's stay." The Birmingham News
- Faulk, Kent (June 30, 2020) "Alabama Supreme Court rules Bessemer Cutoff residents can vote in Jefferson County DA primary races." The Birmingham News