Old Shelby County Courthouse

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1854 Shelby County Courthouse in 2016

The Old Shelby County Courthouse is two-story, painted brick building which was built in 1854 to serve as the seat of government for Shelby County. It was built on an elliptical "island" at the south end of Main Street (Shelby County Road 47) at Mildred Street, which was site of the earlier 1826 courthouse. The court relocated to a new larger Shelby County Courthouse, two blocks away, in 1908.

Judge John McClanahan ordered the construction of the new courthouse in 1854. McCan & Williamson were awarded a $2,500 contract for its construction.

1854 Shelby County Courthouse plaque

The original 1854 structure, forming the central portion of the present cross-shaped building, was covered in clapboards with a metal roof. It was reclad with brick veneer and re-roofed with terra cotta tiles in 1881, at which time the building was extended to the front and back, with neo-classical pediments on the north and south gables. The entrance, on the north, is marked by a pair of large doors with sidelites and transom surmounted by a segmental arch. The second floor windows above the entrance have a semi-circular transom with radial muntins.

After the county government moved to the new courthouse in 1908, the building was used as a hotel, boarding house and apartments. In 1955 the Town of Columbiana purchased it for $5,000 for use as a City Hall.

At the time it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974, the building was considered threatened, as the city government was in need of larger accommodations. A new Columbiana City Hall was constructed to the east, and the old courthouse building was renovated as the home of the Shelby County Museum and Archives. The exterior was repainted a tan color and the tile roof was replaced with asphalt shingles.