Jefferson County Courthouse Bessemer Division

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The Jefferson County Courthouse Bessemer Division is the secondary location for the Jefferson County Courthouse, serving western Jefferson County from 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.

The three-story brick building faced 3rd Avenue at the corner of 18th Street. It was expanded with another 3-story section in 1949 and both building were extensively renovated in 1955, 1966 and 1970.

On October 30, 1967 Martin Luther King, Jr was booked into the courthouse jail on contempt charges stemming from his involvement in the 1963 Birmingham Campaign.

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.

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